Melbourne:Australia could become a cricketing power again within 18 months if the selectors resist frequent changes in the team composition and show faith in injured skipper Ricky Ponting, feels former South African coach Mickey Arthur.
Arthur, who is now the coach of Western Australia, said the Australian selectors must have the courage to pick a team for the future then stick to it just like South Africa did in 2006.
He also said that Aussies should stick with under-fire Ponting for the series against Sri Lanka, South Africa and India.
"As long as Ricky is the best man at No 3 - and I think he is - he should bat there," Arthur, who guided the Proteas to the top ranking in 2005, said.
"Yes, he's getting on a bit, but the time he leaves the No 3 position might be the time for him to move on. I don't think that time is right, yet. I still think there is a little way to go for Ricky Ponting in Test cricket," Arthur was quoted as saying by the 'Herald Sun'.
Arthur said only Ponting had the capacity to steer Australia through a turbulent period before he hands over the baton to his deputy Michael Clarke.
"What Australia needs now is a strong leader. If they are going to play some youngsters in their batting group then they need experience and Ricky is the man who must lead them," the coach said.
Arthur said Australia can become the No 1 team again if selectors showed vision and do away with their habit of constant tinkering with the side.
"I think if they deem now is the right time to start rebuilding then they can realistically be a force in 18 months and be where they need to be," he said.
Arthur said England coach Andy Flower and skipper Andrew Strauss had emulated the blueprint South Africa used in 2008 when it beat Australia in their own backyard for the first time.
"I think England has bowled really well, but the Australian top order has been really loose."