Surrey have this morning announced the signing of former Australian captain Ricky Ponting on a two month contract.
It is a huge coup for the club, after already signing Graeme Smith towards the end of last year, with Ponting coming for the entirety of June and July. During June, Smith is likely to be away with South Africa for the ICC Champions Trophy, so Ponting will initially be cover for our new captain, playing in all 3 formats of the game. He will be able to play at this year’s Guildford Festival at the beginning of June, as well as the whole of the Friends Life Twenty 20 campaign, which ends on the 31st of July at Chelmsford.
Smith is unlikely to be available for most of the Twenty 20 campaign, as South Africa tour Sri Lanka towards the end of July for a 5 match ODI series that he will probably be part of, so Ponting is a fine replacement on and off the pitch for when he’s not here.
Scoring 13,378 test runs at an average of 51.85 just shows what a great batsman we have acquired, and despite him retiring from International cricket towards the end of 2012, Ponting has been in prime form for his state side Tasmania. He has scored 595 runs at an average of 119.00 in 6 matches, top scoring with an unbeaten 200, so there is no doubt that he can still play.
His knowledge and experience is second to none in the world of cricket, and is arguably one of the greatest test captains of all time. Hopefully some of this knowledge and experience can be transferred onto our younger players, such as Dominic Sibley and Rory Burns, benefiting them and the club in the process.
It is the 4th signing we have made in the close season, and all 4 are over the age of 30, with 3 of them in Solanki, Keedy and Ponting all in their late 30’s. Critics would say that we aren’t exactly building for the future, with the average age of the squad going up considerably in recent months. However, Ponting is only coming for a couple of months, and I can only see the positives in the move, as he will come into a side that was in need of a desperate shake-up after the difficult season we had last year.
It is unclear whether Ponting will captain the side when Smith is unavailable, but it seems unlikely that he would, due to the short time that he is here, but whoever steps in for Smith will get help on that front from the Tasmanian you would have thought.
Finally, I would just like to congratulate the management on this signing, which will hopefully contribute to bringing back the good days over the next few years. I’m not expecting us to be challenging on all 3 fronts this coming season, but hopefully we can improve on last season, and with Ponting, try and reach the quarter finals of the Twenty 20 for the first time since 2006.