Australia legend Ricky Ponting believes Ben Stokes needs to adopt a more aggressive approach in the Ashes series.

Former Aussie captain Ponting says Cumbrian all-rounder Stokes had not yet looked the dominant presence at the crease that has intimidated bowlers in the past.

Day one of the third Test at the MCG saw England dismissed for 185 before the hosts reached 61-1 at the close.

Stokes' 25 was England's third highest score in their innings, with Joe Root making 50 and Jonny Bairstow 35 in another grim overall batting display.

Ponting, speaking on, commented on Stokes' showings so far, after the Cockermouth all-rounder returned to the Test side this winter after an extended break from cricket to prioritise his mental well-being and to rest an injured finger.

"He's looked ultra-defensive," Ponting said.

"He hasn't looked like the big, physically aggressive presence at the crease that opposition teams have feared to bowl to in other series.

"You can understand why – the batting conditions haven't been easy in any game and he's coming up against some good bowlers.

"But I think if you just sit back and wait, and don't put pressure on great bowlers, they're going to get you out.

"We always used to say in teams that I played in that the better the bowler, the more risks you had to take as a batter, because you simply don't get bad balls.

"You have got to find a way to jump on anything that's a little bit bad, rotate the strike as much as you can."