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Ashes Ricky Ponting: Steven Smith should stay at number three

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has urged Steven Smith to continue batting at number three when he replaces Michael Clarke as the country's Test skipper.

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play (Omni Sports)

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has urged Steven Smith to continue batting at number three when he replaces Michael Clarke as the country's Test skipper.

Smith will take over from Clarke after the fifth Ashes Test against England, which starts on Thursday, and the 26-year-old indicated last week that he may drop down the order as captain.

In Australia's last two Tests, Smith failed to reach double figures batting at first drop.

But Ponting - Australia's second-most capped Test captain with 77 matches in charge - reckons Smith should follow in his footsteps and lead from the front.

Ponting batted almost exclusively at three throughout his career, scoring 13,378 Test runs at 51.85 with 41 centuries.

Smith has averaged 64.80 at three with two centuries, while he has five 100s at number four with an average of 71.05.

"I firmly believe that as Australia's new captain Steven Smith should continue batting at number three once he takes on the role," Ponting wrote in a column for ESPN's Cricinfo.

"I know there have been a few people saying that he's not a long-term option in that position based on what they have seen in this Ashes series, but I definitely think it is where he should bat from here on.

"Steve will learn a lot from this Ashes series."

England have seemingly found the perfect way to get Smith out, with the Australian right-hander's past four dismissals seeing him hit catches to off-side fielders when shuffling across the crease.

That trend continued against Northamptonshire on Sunday when Smith was out for a duck, edging to the wicketkeeper.

But Ponting does not believe Smith has a major technical flaw, underlining that the New South Welshman produced his highest Test score - 215 - during the second Ashes Test at Lord's.

"England took note of how dominant he was in that game and also how much he was moving across his crease," Ponting wrote.

"They have bowled wider and wider to him across the series, and if he's going to persist with that pronounced pre-movement, it will probably continue against most of the bowling attacks Steve faces... he also got a couple of good balls; in the first innings at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge they were rearing, seaming deliveries that a lot of players would have edged.

"It can be said that they were a fraction wide of the stumps, but because of Steve's movement across he was actually trying to play them as close to under his eyes as possible.

"Between now and the Test tour of Bangladesh, Steve will have a little bit of time to think about what he wants to do with his foot movement... that being said, Steve doesn't give me the impression he is too worried about where his stumps are, as long as he's got his body in line with the ball... I am sure he will be good enough to make whatever adjustments he sees fit to be the best batsman he can be - he already has to get this far."

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