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Ponting urges Steve Smith to bat at No.3


London, Aug 17 (IANS) Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting on Monday urged incoming Test captain Steve Smith to shelve consideration of dropping down the batting order, adding the right-hander has the technique to thrive at No.3 despite his failure in the past two Ashes Tests.

Australia were beaten 1-3 by England in the ongoing Ashes series with a match still to go in the five-match series. The final Test will begin on August 20.

Smith will take over the Test captaincy from Michael Clarke after the Ashes series.

Smith said he would mull a move back to No.4 when he takes charge of the team in Bangladesh in October, depending on the batsmen alongside him in the team.

Ponting strongly counselled him against it, just as he did with Michael Clarke.

“I firmly believe that as Australia’s new captain Steven Smith should continue batting at No.3 once he takes on the role,” Ponting was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.

“I know there have been a few people saying that he’s not a long-term option in that position based on what they have seen in this Ashes series, but I definitely think it is where he should bat from here on.”

Ponting said he was confident Smith’s unconventional technique, which involves him habitually moving across his stumps at the point of delivery, was conducive to batting at No.3, which demands an ability to handle the new ball in case of an early wicket.

“England took note of how dominant he was in that game (at Lord’s cricket ground when he scored 215) and also how much he was moving across his crease. They have bowled wider and wider to him across the series, and if he’s going to persist with that pronounced pre-movement, it will probably continue against most of the bowling attacks Steve faces,” he said.

Since that 215-run innings in the second Test, the 26-year-old has notched single-figure scores in his four Test innings and fell for a duck in Australia’s weekend tour match against Northamptonshire.

“He spends hour upon hour in the nets hitting balls. But now he may have to start thinking about how to look a little more at everyone else during these sessions without sacrificing his own preparations,” Ponting said.

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