Ponting backs Hauritz ahead of ‘work in progress’ Steve Smith

Leeds: Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting has made it clear that no matter what leg-spinning all-rounder Steve Smith does in the second Test against Pakistan in Leeds, he is convinced that Nathan Hauritz deserves the specialist spinner role when he returns from injury.

Ponting’s determination to show loyalty to Hauritz was obvious when the skipper was asked after training at Headingley whether another decent bowling performance by Smith, after his 5-51 at Lord’s, might put pressure on Hauritz’s position.

You shouldn’t underestimate what ‘Haurie’ has done for us in the last 12 or 24 months,” Ponting said.

In nine Tests over the last 12 months the NSW off-spinner has taken 34 wickets at an average 32.3, while also scoring 273 runs at the more-than-handy average of 45.5, with many of his runs coming when the team was under pressure or needing a quick spurt of scoring.

“He has come on in leaps and bounds and been particularly good in most games he has played,” Fox Sports quoted Ponting, as saying, before emphasising Smith’s junior status.

“Steve is a real work in progress for us and every game that he can get and exposure he can get at international level is going to hold him in good stead. I think the way he handled his debut last week was very good, as was (wicketkeeper Tim) Paine.”

Ponting said experience was often the difference between winning or losing the key moments in Test cricket, pointing to the young Pakistan side’s problems against Australia last week and Australia’s 2-1 failure in last year’s Ashes series.

When that series began, half of Australia’s current preferred XI were beginners at Test cricket, with Marcus North having played only two Tests, Ben Hilfenhaus three, Hauritz four, Peter Siddle seven and Shane Watson eight.

“Experience had a big part in it,” Ponting said.

“That’s what I keep coming back to - we had some young guys that were playing their first real big Test series last time.

“As a result of that I think they have all come along and they’ve all improved and they have all played another eight or 10 Tests after that as well.

“You’d like to think that some of the errors and mistakes we made under pressure last time, we won’t repeat again when the next Ashes comes around.”



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