Steve Smith is poised to become a modern-day great, according to former Australia captain Ricky Ponting following his inspirational century against England in the Ashes.
Smith produced a masterclass of patience and resilience as he posted his 21st Test ton for Australia at the Gabba on Saturday.
The 28-year-old batsman withstood an England onslaught and a short-ball barrage to finish 141 not out on day three of the Brisbane Test to help Australia into a strong position.
And Australian great Ponting – who scored 41 Test hundreds during his career – believes Smith is set to etch his name in history.
"Twenty-one hundreds in 56 games, he's well on track to do that," Ponting told ABC Grandstand on Sunday.
"I've watched him pretty closely, you can just tell he's hungry to lead his team well and he wants to be the best player that there has ever been.
"He's got a game now that is standing up to the best attacks in all conditions, all around the world.
"If he keeps trending the way he is, then absolutely."
Smith celebrated passionately as he raised his bat and turned to the Australian dressing room in the stands, pumping his chest.
"We saw the emotion that came out of him afterwards, banging his chest and his heart," Ponting continued.
"If I was sitting in that dressing room as a young bloke – as a [Cameron] Bancroft or a Shaun Marsh coming back in, or a Tim Paine – I wouldn't have needed to see that at all.
"I would have been inspired by what I had seen in 520 minutes at the crease, and going up and down through the gears, and playing a role that was so specific to what the game needed.
"It was a leader's innings, and he's put his mark on the series at the first possible opportunity."
Comparing Smith to iconic batsmen Sachin Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis, Ponting added: "These guys have scored 15,000 and 13,000 runs, but they played in 150-plus Tests, Tendulkar 200 Tests, to achieve what they achieved. [Smith] is nearly halfway there in just over 50 Test matches."
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