Having earlier questioned Bangladesh's Test status, Ricky Ponting went into damage control mode on Thursday, saying that Bangladesh is "improving gradually and they deserve their Test status.
"Looking back, I think I was wrong with what I said," Ponting said, addressing a press conference at Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka on the eve of the first of the two Tests against Bangladesh. "I think I was speaking from an ideal world point of view, and not putting much [emphasis] into the growth of the game in world cricket, that is where I made the mistake. Maybe Bangladesh having Test status will take the game forward because that's what it is all about.
"We just like to think that Bangladesh will keep improving, that their cricket will keep improving and the infrastructure and facilities here in this country will keep improving and that will give them the best chance of being a good international team in the future."
These latest comments are an abrupt about-turn from what he said in February. Back then he told London's Daily Telegraph,"What I would not have is the minnow nations in the World Cup and the Champions Trophy, and I would not have Bangladesh and Zimbabwe playing Tests at present." As a result of these words, Cricket Australia had to issue a statement in support of Bangladesh playing Test cricket.
Asked about the ODI defeat against Bangladesh last year, Ponting said: "There is a little bit of luck involved in the one-day game. But, I don't envisage a repeat performance."
Dav Whatmore, Bangladesh's coach, said his side had the potential to become the top team on the subcontinent. "Sri Lanka is a small island, the population about the same as Australia, and they became the leaders of cricket in the subcontinent. In Bangladesh, there's so much potential. All the ingredients are there."
He expressed happiness over Australia's selection of a full-strength team, saying it was a sign of respect for his young side. "I would like Australia to treat us seriously. If the little guys are starting to show a little bit, they'll flex their muscles a little bit, which is what we expect. I am very, very pleased that the full squad was selected. That's a bit of respect, I think."