Ricky Ponting hits out after Steve Smith comments spark cricket frenzy

Steve Smith inadvertently caused a storm in the cricket world with his comments after the second day of the SCG Test.

Ricky Ponting, pictured here alongside Steve Smith.
Ricky Ponting has blasted speculation around Steve Smith's future in cricket. Image: AAP/Cricket.com

Ricky Ponting has hit out over speculation around Steve Smith's future in cricket after the Aussie star said he doesn't know how much longer he'll be playing the game. Smith made his 30th Test century against South Africa at the SCG on Thursday, moving past Don Bradman's mark of 29.

Smith is now equal with Matthew Hayden, with only Steve Waugh (32) and Ponting (41) ahead of him. His 104 at the SCG also moved his career runs tally to 8647, going past Michael Clarke (8643) into fourth place on the all-time run-scorer's list for Australia.

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Ponting tops the list with 13,378 runs, with Allan Border (11,174) and Waugh (10,927) the only others ahead of Smith. But if his comments on Thursday evening are anything to go by, Smith might not be around long enough to surpass the Aussie legends.

The 33-year-old made the startling call that he's not sure how many Test summers he'll be playing, saying he'll treat his immediate future on a tour-by-tour basis. "We'll see. I'm enjoying it at the moment," he told reporters. "I really can't say how long I'll play for. I'm not sure.

"I'll take it one tour at a time, just enjoy it, enjoy training and trying to get better as well. Whilst I'm doing that, I'm happy playing but I don't know how long that'll last."

Smith's comments sparked a frenzy in the cricket world, with many speculating that the prolific batter is on the verge of retirement. Discussing the situation on Channel 7 on Friday morning, Ponting was asked about his thoughts.

The former Test captain hit out, saying: "I'm not sure why anyone is even asking him about retirement. He's only 33."

Ponting added that he believes Smith still has plenty of cricket left in him and will play a pivotal role in Australia's upcoming tours of India and England. The Aussies will head to India (where they haven't won a series since 2004) for four Tests in February and March, before a showdown with England for the Ashes starting in June.

Elaborating on his uncertainty about his future, Smith said one of his recent goals was imparting his experience and wisdom on younger players. "For me, it's about trying to get better and try to help some of the other batters coming through," he said.

"Just try and impart as much knowledge of conditions and ways to go about it. If I can say something and see that lightbulb go on when someone figures something out, I get a big thrill out of that."

Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith, pictured here after making centuries on the second day of the third Test against South Africa.
Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith both made centuries on the second day of the third Test against South Africa. (Photo by Brett Hemmings - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Steve Smith clarifies comments after frenzy

After his comments caused somewhat of a storm, Smith moved to clarify that he's not thinking about retirement on Friday morning. Speaking to Fox Sports he said: “I’m always very cryptic with that (retirement) stuff. But I’m not going anywhere, I’m comfortable with where everything is at, we’ve got a few good tours coming up, I’m excited, and I’m still trying to get better.

“Whilst I still have that hunger and eagerness to try and improve, particularly to help some of the batters coming through ... while I’m doing all that I’m enjoying myself and I have no plans for retirement.”

The Aussies are staring down the barrel of a changing of the guard, with openers David Warner and Usman Khawaja both 36 years of age. Warner recently revealed that he and Khawaja agreed not to leave the team in the lurch by retiring around the same time.

“We’re going to enjoy the next 12 months, enjoy it as much as we can. For us it’s about not leaving this team with a big hole," he said. “We always talk about games played and how much that means into a team’s performance and perspective with experience. You can’t fill that void.”

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