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Ponting: Depth around Australian cricket not where it needs to be

Former captain still insists that team can win the T20 World Cup if all first-choice picks are fit and healthy

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Mitchell Marsh was the only Australia batter to come away with an enhanced reputation from the Bangladesh debacle  •  Munir Uz Zaman/AFP

Mitchell Marsh was the only Australia batter to come away with an enhanced reputation from the Bangladesh debacle  •  Munir Uz Zaman/AFP

Ricky Ponting has questioned the depth in Australian cricket after the poor T20 results on the recent tours of West Indies and Bangladesh but believes the team can still challenge for the World Cup if their strongest side is available.
Australia ended the twin tours with an 2-8 scoreline across the two T20 contests which was capped off by being skittled for 62, their lowest T20 total, in the final match in Dhaka.
While Ponting acknowledged the challenging conditions in Bangladesh he was concerned that performances got worse as the matches went on. Only Mitchell Marsh emerged with an enhanced reputation with the bat although the bowling attack largely performed creditably.
"The lack of knowhow and skill in those conditions brought us undone again," Ponting told Tim Paine on the Test captain's SEN radio show. "It's been the achilles heel for Australian cricket for as long as I can remember - more so in Test cricket, but we've always found a way to be very competitive in Sri Lanka and India in white-ball cricket. Just goes to show the depth around Australia cricket is not where it needs to be so there's some work to do there.
"The T20 World Cup is not far away so hopefully we get all the boys fit and healthy, because I still think with everyone fit and healthy in the UAE that Australian team can push really hard to win the title. Let's keep our fingers crossed we can put our strongest XI on the field."
Captain Aaron Finch was ruled out of the Bangladesh series with a knee injury which meant Australia were missing up to eight players who could be considered among first picks including David Warner, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis from the batting order.
"There were a lot of names not there…but it almost seemed they got worse during that series," Ponting said. "There's no doubt those conditions were really difficult, but that's the worry for me. They've been there long enough and done some training on wickets you'd have thought were quite similar to what they played on yet the further the series went, whether a lack of confidence or skill or game awareness, I'm sure they would have been shattered."
It now seems likely that a number of the Australia players will prepare for the World Cup by returning to the IPL for its resumption next month although Pat Cummins is not expected to be available due to the birth of his first child.
Ponting, the head coach of Delhi Capitals, said he was still waiting for confirmation on whether he would have Smith, who is recovering from an elbow injury, and Stoinis available but sees it as their best opportunity to be tuned up for the World Cup.
"There's no doubt it's their best preparation, in those exact conditions playing probably the strongest domestic T20 tournament in the world," he said. "I'm not saying it just because I want some of the Australian players there with Delhi, but it sounds like our domestic season will be pushed back so they'll be no domestic cricket here before the T20 World Cup, so preparation wise it's spot on.
"Not sure if they'll be any restrictions on the bowlers going there, there may well be, but certainly the guys like Smith, Davey, Maxi, Stoinis who have been out of cricket for three or fourth months they need to get back into the groove."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo