Ponting named Australia’s assistant coach for World Cup

"I think Australia will be the one of the main contenders for sure- Ponting

Ricky Ponting believes the imminent return of Steve Smith and David Warner will provide Australia a great chance of defending their World Cup title this year in England and Wales.Ponting, who captained Australia's triumphant 2003 and 2007 World Cup sides, was announced as side's assistant coach on Friday (February 8).The defending champions have been going through a terrible phase in One-Day Internationals, winning just four out of their last 26 ODIs.

It's a confidence unshaken by numerous pointers to Australia's declining ODI fortunes in particular.

He also accompanied Langer during his first tour - to England - after taking over as head coach from Darren Lehmann last April following the tampering scandal in South Africa.

Steve Smith and David Warner's ball-tampering bans expire on March 29.

"I am not just saying that because I am one of the coaches, I actually said it when I wasn't around the group". "Ricky and I have worked together with the Australian men's team in the past, he is an extremely driven coach who is fully invested in the players development and improving Australian cricket".

"India and England are probably the two standout teams right now but if you add Warner and Smith back into that line-up, I think that team looks as strong as any", Ponting told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.

"With the inclusion of two of the best one-day players in the world who have a lot of experience, all of a sudden the team starts looking a whole lot better". He had a ringside seat to their struggles against Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali in England a year ago, though intriguingly figured that spin will not figure too much in the Cup, despite the matches being played at more or less the same time (May and June) on the same grounds as that series.

"I think the thing that's held us back really in the past few years in one-day cricket is how we've played spin bowling", Ponting said. "That's been an issue and it was certainly an issue when I was with the team in the United Kingdom a year ago". Moeen Ali and (Adil) Rashid tied our batsmen up.

"Looking at our line-up now, there are potentially a few better players of spin in the middle order than what we had previous year", he said. "But you think about English conditions as well, the wickets probably shouldn't spin too much throughout the World Cup". All the planning right now is we'll have all those guys in the squad.

The most likely scenario has them shaping up in the Indian Premier League and, particularly in Smith's case, racing the clock to be fit for the World Cup.