NEW Barnsley captain Luke Steele has cited Australian legend Ricky Ponting as an inspiration to follow in the wake of him announcing his retirement from Test cricket.
Avid cricket fan Steele was appointed as Reds captain on Tuesday, two days before Ponting announced plans to call it a day after an illustrious 17-year Test career.
Manager Keith Hill revealed that Steele’s mental strength tipped the scales in his decision to hand him the captain’s armband and if he can generate a team ethic like Ponting fostered with Australia, the goalkeeper will be delighted.
Steele, handed the captaincy ahead of Tuesday’s draw with Burnley, added: “Ricky Ponting has inspired me immensely with the way he spoke. I watched when Michael Clarke was asked about Ricky on Thursday and he was nearly brought to tears and it showed how much the team thought of him.
“I actually rang my dad and I said, Did you see the news?’ and he said, ‘yes, it was unbelievable’.
“For him to announce his retirement this week is quite funny as me and my dad have always followed cricket and we just said on Thursday: ‘what an amazing captain.’ Probably the best captain in the last 10 or 15 years.
“It made me think that I would love to be someone like that. Obviously, he is far away from me on a sporting level, but he is someone who inspires me. I want to inspire my team-mates. Any help I can give to my team-mates, whether it is verbally in the dressing rooms or through saves, might just lift somebody.
“I do really enjoy pressure and the big moments in games. I am really pleased to get the captaincy. I feel as if it has not been thrown upon me but chosen carefully.”
Barnsley – rumoured to be interesting a Spanish consortium headed by former Tottenham and Barcelona player Steve Archibald – head into this afternoon’s game at Watford on the back of an eight-match winless streak and Hill would take any sort of win. “I would take a 1-0 now; I love every aspect of a 1-0. It is an ugly footballing result, but one of those would please me no end.”