Ricky Ponting has declared Virat Kohli to be the best batsman in the world, but it was a statement tethered to the precursor that Steve Smith has not played a lot of cricket in 2018.
As someone who scored 71 hundreds across Tests and ODIs during his illustrious career, Ponting alluded to the recent Ashes series as highlighting Smith’s prowess with the bat.
“Right now, he (Kohli) is because Steve Smith is not there. But if Steve Smith was playing now, I’d have him as the number one player in the world,” Ponting told cricket.com.au.
“That’s how high in regard I hold Steve Smith – what he’s done the last three or four years with his game and able to lead an Australian team to so many wins the way he has.
“The Ashes summer last year was just some of the best and purest batting as you’re ever going to see. To do it on the big stage in an Ashes series, and to do it on the first day of an Ashes series when it counts the most, says a lot about him.”
The stats back up Smith when it comes to Test cricket; scoring 23 tons and averaging 61.37 in two Tests less than Kohli, who mas managed 21 tons and averaged 53.40.
Smith is currently playing in the Global T20 league in Canada while serving a one-year ban handed to him by Cricket Australia as part of the fallout of the ball-tampering scandal which rocked Australian cricket earlier this year.
The ban has allowed Kohli to assert his dominance in the white-ball stakes. From January 2017 to India’s last ODI match played in February 2018 Kohli has scored nine centuries, more than Smith has managed during his entire ODI career.
Kohli will be in action against top-ranked ODI nation England at Trent Bridge on Thursday in the first of a three-match series.