Ponting labels Kohli the best in the world, but only for Smith's absence
Former Australian captain and all-time leading run-getter for his country, Ricky Ponting has made his call on who is currently the best batsman in the world. Rather unsurprisingly, his pick is the most prolific run-getter in all three formats of the game, India's captain Virat Kohli.
Although, Ponting also mentioned a slight asterisk as to this choice of his, that being the year-long absence of Australian ex-skipper Steve Smith after his harsh suspension in light of the events at Cape Town in Australia's tour of South Africa earlier this year.
When asked at a Channel Seven promotional event the question as to who led the pack in terms of batting prowess, Ponting said, "Right now, Kohli is because Steve Smith is not there, if Steve Smith was playing now, I'd have him as the number one player in the world.
"That's how high in regard I hold Steve Smith - what he's done the last three or four years with his game and (he’s been) able to lead an Australian team to so many wins the way he has (batted).
"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."
Ponting's words, as usual, have substance to them, while Kohli outclasses perhaps every white ball player ever in terms of limited-overs cricket performance, Smith finds himself in a league of his own too in Test cricket. While Kohli boasts respectable stats in the longer form of the game, he is often found to struggle in conditions that are more conducive to bowling or different from the flat subcontinent decks he has scored a majority of his runs in.
Same could be said of Smith in terms of scoring a lot of runs on docile pitches, but whenever the chance has come, he has toughed out some world class bowling as well. His double ton at Lord's against the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad was one of the best Ashes performances, to add to that he scored a gutsy 109 at Pune last year in the opening Test of the Border-Gavaskar trophy, on a pitch where India folded for scores less than that in both their innings.
India's tour of Australia later this year could have been the perfect window for the two batting maestros to be pitted against each other but Smith's ban means that Kohli will have the default opportunity to not only go one-up against his batting rival but to lead India to its first ever Test series win on Australian soil.