County news September 18, 2003

Ward offered Somerset captaincy

Wisden CricInfo staff

Ian Ward has been offered the chance to captain Somerset in 2004, after announcing his intention to part company with Surrey at the end of the season.

Ward has scored nearly 7000 first-class runs in his career, as well as representing England in five Tests in 2001. During his time at The Oval, he helped Surrey to win three County Championship titles in four seasons from 1999 to 2002, and was a key member of the team that won this year's Twenty20 Cup and National League.

Somerset, who endured a frustrating season and at once stage threatened a large portion of their playing staff with the sack, are keen to mount a stronger challenge next season, and a player of Ward's calibre is central to their plans. "We have offered the captaincy [to a new signing] before," said chief executive Peter Anderson. "Chris Tavare, Peter Bowler and Andy Hayhurst being examples."

Anderson acknowleged that Somerset faced competition for a number of other counties for Ward's signature. "To get someone of his seniority to move counties there has to be an objective for him, and if his ambition is to captain then it seems he has to leave Surrey."

Anderson also confirmed that Australia's one-day captain Ricky Ponting is being lined up as a possible signing. "He can't give us an answer either way," said Anderson. "He wants to come to England at some stage in his career but he has to have the permission of the Australian cricket board."