SURREY Cricket Club has signed Tasmanian Ricky Ponting for a summer stint to cover for Graeme Smith. Ponting, 38, will play for Surrey in June and July this year and will be available for selection in all formats. South African Smith is likely to be involved in the ICC Champions Trophy from June 6-23.
Surrey Team Director Chris Adams announced on the club’s website: “In Ricky Ponting, we have signed one of the greatest batsmen of the modern area.”
Ponting said: “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.”
He added: “I’d like to think that 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.”
England batsman Kevin Pietersen tweeted: “Smith and now Ponting, joining us at Surrey this season. Wowza!! Hope I get to bat with both of them. #fireworks.”
Ponting made his One Day International debut against South Africa in Wellington in 1995 and his Test debut against Sri Lanka in Perth later that year. He was Australian team captain from 2004 to 2011. He retired from International Test Cricket in December last year with 13,378 runs to his name, the second highest run scorer in Test history after Sachin Tendulkar.
Ponting has continued to play domestic cricket for the Tasmanian Tigers and recently hit an unbeaten 200 against New South Wales and 95 in a one-day game against Western Australia.
English county cricket is not new for Ponting. He had a month-long stint for Somerset in the build-up to the ICC Champions Trophy in 2004. He is now likely to captain Surrey through the group stages of Surrey’s Friends Life t20 campaign and the Guildford Festival.
Surrey’s ground, the Oval, may hold bittersweet memories for Ponting. It was under his leadership there that Australia lost the ashes in 2005 and 2009. He is the only Australian captain to have lost three Ashes series.