Melbourne: Arguably the greatest Australian batsman of the modern era, Ricky Ponting – who led Australia in 77 Tests – has challenged current skipper Steve Smith to maintain his current batting standard for another 100 Tests in order to become a better batsman than Ponting and the greatest since Sir Donald Bradman.
Captain Smith scored a match-winning 109 in second innings against India Pune to help the Team from Down Under to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series. The 27-year-old’s 18th Test ton pushed him to 933 ICC rankings points – the sixth-highest of any batsman in history.
"If Smithy keeps maintaining what he's doing now for another 100 Tests then he probably will end up being a better player than me," Ponting told News Ltd. "He's not doing much wrong at the moment, is he?
"I know he's got great passion and got great drive to be the best player he can be and probably the best player the world has ever seen, which is a great attitude to have. I wanted to be the best player in the world as well and I wanted to be able to sustain it for a long period of time. And that's what really separates the great players; how long you can actually sustain a high level of excellence," said Ponting.
Earlier, Ponting had heaped praise on Smith for his captaincy. The Aussie skipper belives in leading from the front. In 21 Tests as a captain, his average stands at 73.37 – second only to Bradman for captains to have led in 10-plus matches.
"The thing I love about him is he leads from the front, doesn't he," Ponting said in December after Smith made a first-innings hundred to set up a fifth-day victory against Pakistan in Brisbane.
"Whenever there's a tough situation with the bat, he's always the first to put his hand up and get the job done. That will make the players gravitate more towards him as a captain and a leader as well. That's the most important thing a lot of the time,” Ponting said.