Former Australia international Ricky Ponting has opened up about his affection for young Indian cricketer Rishabh Pant following the latter’s accident on the Delhi-Dehradun highway in December 2022.
Ponting, speaking on The ICC Review, revealed that he has been in constant touch with Pant during the 25-year-old’s recovery.
“I absolutely love the bloke, I told him that on the phone the last couple of days. It was a horrifying time, a really scary time for everybody, let alone him. Anyone that knows him loves him – he’s a really infectious young guy that has the world at his feet still. So we will keep our fingers crossed and hope that he can get back to playing sooner rather than later,” said Ponting.
The ex-Australia captain feels that Pant should take up a role alongside him in the dugout of Delhi Capitals (DC) during this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL).
According to reports, Pant would be out of action for more than 6 months and may fly to London to recover fully from his multiple injuries. Therefore, Ponting has also started looking at the replacements to make up for the loss of his star player.
“You can’t replace those guys, simple as that. They don’t grow on trees, players like that. We’ve got to look at – and we already are – a replacement to come into the squad, a wicketkeeper-batsman,” added Ponting.
The Aussie continued: “I want him sitting beside me in the dugout every day of the week.
“If he’s actually not physically fit enough to play, we’d still love to have him around. He’s the sort of cultural leader around the group, being the captain, and that attitude and infectious smile and laugh he has is what we all love so much about him.
“If he’s actually able to travel and be around the team, then I want him sitting beside me in the dugout every day of the week. I’ll certainly be making sure, come the middle of March when we get together in Delhi and start our camps and stuff, if he’s able to be there, then I want him around the whole time,” the Australian legend explained.
With the Pant-Ponting combination at the helm, DC finished fifth in IPL 2022 and lost in Qualifier 2 of the 2021 edition.