Aaron Finch
Aaron Finch Image Credit: AFP

Melbourne: Australia captain Aaron Finch has admitted that the mere presence of Ricky Ponting in the dressing room and on the training track immediately lifts the morale of every member of the group as they look to defend their World Champions title in the upcoming World Cup beginning May 30 in England.

Ponting — a dual World Cup-winning captain and three-times trophy winner — will be there as a specialist coach with the Australian team for the showpiece event.

“The boys all want to impress ‘Punter’,” cricket.com.au quoted Finch as saying who recalled the effect Ponting had on the team when he was enlisted earlier this year to support Langer for the prestigious quadrennial event.

“Everyone wants to impress Punter, you should see them — it’s like eight-year-old girls around Justin Bieber when Punter’s around the changeroom. “It’s embarrassing, but it’s great,” he added.

Australia will play two warm-up games against England and Sri Lanka before beginning their World Cup campaign against Afghanistan on June 1.

Meanwhile, in an interview with a leading English daily in India, Ponting identified England as the favourites for the showpiece. “Initially, it would be England for two reasons. England have started playing well in limited overs and the tournament will be played on home. Naturally, they will have some home advantage. But they will be challenged by India and Australia,” he said.

Ponting said the World Cup this year will be an open one as the tournament will be played in the round robin format — making it a long affair with every team playing other nine teams at least once. The batting legend said although England are favourites, there are a few teams who can stage upsets. When asked about the likes of Pakistan, West Indies and South Africa, Ponting said, “They are also good. This would be a very open World Cup. Although England are clear favourites, there are other strong teams who can cause upsets.”