Ricky Ponting, the former Australia captain, will play for Surrey, the English County, during June-July 2013. Ponting signed with the Surrey Cricket Club for a two-month deal and will be available for selection in all formats. A statement on the club’s website on Thursday (February 21) said Ponting will initially be available as cover for Graeme Smith, who is likely to be involved in the in the ICC Champions Trophy that is scheduled from June 6-23.
“I’m really excited to be playing for Surrey this season. They are a forward thinking and historic club – and play at one of the greatest grounds in the world. It hasn’t been the friendliest place for me but now it will be my home for two months this summer,” said Ponting.
Ponting, 38, has played four Tests at the Oval, Surrey’s home ground, without hitting a century. He has scored 231 at an average of 38.50, with a highest of 66.
“I’d like to think I can contribute a significant amount to the club – on and off the field – and am looking forward to getting stuck in as soon as I arrive,” added Ponting.
When Smith is available, Surrey will have considerable star-power in their ranks, with Ponting and Smith joining Kevin Pietersen, who was looking forward to the opportunity of batting with them. “Smith and now Ponting, joining us at Surrey this season.. Wowza!! Hope I get to bat with both of them..#fireworks,” said Pietersen on his twitter channel.
Ponting retired from international cricket in December 2013, with 13,378 runs in Test cricket and 13,704 runs in One-Day Internationals, a tally second only to Sachin Tendulkar. Since his international retirement Ponting has continued to play domestic cricket in Australia for Tasmania. He has been in fine form of late, scoring an unbeaten double century against New South Wales earlier this month and hitting 95 in a one-day game against Western Australia on Tuesday.
He will now return to the ground where two Australian sides that he led lost the Ashes in 2005 and 2009.
“I thought my days of playing in England might have been over after I knew I wasn’t going to be on the Ashes tour this year. I’ve probably got a few too many bad memories from the Oval because of Ashes series gone by, so I hope I can walk away with some better ones this time,” Ponting was quoted as saying by The London Evening Standard. “I’m exceptionally excited to be back in England. I’ve only had one chance to play in county cricket before now, and I’ve always said I wanted to come back. I’m thankful that I’ll get that chance with Surrey.”
Chris Adams, the Surrey Team Director, welcomed Ponting’s inclusion, calling him “one of the greatest batsmen of the modern era” on the club’s website.
“We knew we would lose Graeme [Smith] to the ICC Champions Trophy in June,” said Adams. “That given, we focused on recruiting the best possible replacement and, in Ricky Ponting, we have signed one of the greatest batsmen of the modern era. This year, our young batsmen will enjoy a unique opportunity to learn from not just one but two of the greatest International players of the modern age.”