Steve Smith with former Australia captain Ricky Ponting. @ AFP
Steve Smith with former Australia captain Ricky Ponting. @ AFP

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting on Wednesday has backed Steve Smith to return to a leadership role once his 12-month ban is complete. Ponting’s comments come after Smith and Cameron Bancroft were interviewed separately by former Australia wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist which went was broadcast on Fox Cricket – the pair opening up about the events that unfolded in Cape Town earlier this year.

“I think he will come back into the captaincy,” Ponting was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au on Wednesday.

“He’s owned up about what his leadership failures were, and he’s been pretty open with that over the last week. I’m able to forgive after he serves his penalty. It’s a pretty hefty penalty to have 12 months on the sidelines, let alone the financial side of it.

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“What he’s had to say, I think he’ll come back a much better person and a much better leader because of what’s happened.”

Ponting expressed shock after the full transcripts of the interviews were released to the media, but maintained that the news should not bother the Australia team with the series against India, which currently stands 1-all on the line in Melbourne.

“From a wholly journalistic approach, you can understand the reasons why it was aired today,” he said.

“You’ve probably got a big percentage of the population watching the cricket today and they’ll be reading about it tomorrow. I can understand how that could happen.

“I’m not sure how happy the players would be about it or Cricket Australia, because it’s a pretty special moment in Australian cricket on a day like today. So, we’ll see what the reaction is.

“I’ve seen a couple of headlines (since the interviews), which I’ve been shocked at, I must admit. Some of the things that have been said have been quite shocking to me.

“We’re nine months on from this stuff and there’s still a lot being spoken about what happened in Cape Town.

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“Now that those stories are out there, it’s going to be interesting to see what the reaction is tomorrow in newspapers and news channels. There’s enough in those stories to raise a few eyebrows.”

He doubted the current players will be distracted by the coverage. “I think the guys that are not banned have had long enough to move on from that sort of stuff,” he said.

“The guys that were banned have had to live it on a daily basis, but the other guys not quite as much. I’m pretty sure that Painey and some of the other guys, they have to leave that behind and move on and worry about what’s happening in the middle of the MCG. Because right now, the series is at absolute fever pitch … so the less distractions the better.”

Cameron Bancroft’s nine-month ban ends on December 29, while Smith and David Warner can return to playing in March next year.