County news March 20, 2012

Ponting on Somerset's radar

27

Somerset are lining up Ricky Ponting, the former Australia captain, as their overseas player for the second half of the 2012 season.

Ponting, 37, has recently accepted that his career in international limited-overs cricket is over, but remains keen to continue in Test cricket. The lure of a final Ashes tour in 2013 remains strong and good performances in county cricket would send a message to the Australia selectors that he still has the ability to master English conditions. Ponting averaged 48.12 in the 2009 Ashes in England, but only 16.14 in the return series in Australia in 2010-11.

Ponting enjoyed a happy spell in Taunton in 2004 and has made no secret of his desire to return. He averaged 99 in three Championship matches (with two centuries and a half-century in his three completed innings), 99.33 in four List A matches (with a century on debut followed by innings of 46, 56 and 83 not out) and made 20 in his one Twenty20 appearance.

"I definitely want to go back to Somerset for another crack at county cricket," Ponting said in 2010. "I had a great time there in 2004 and I've always wanted to go back for a longer stint. Who knows what will happen in the future but coaching, playing, and just being around the Somerset group are possibilities."

When Ponting was dropped from Australia's one-day team he thought another spell in county cricket would be unlikely. "To be totally honest I think most of the county sides would already have their international players signed in and locked in for next season anyway ... probably at the moment that's an outside chance for me to go and play county cricket," he said. "There's no doubt that I need to be as well prepared as possible for I think it's the start of November in Australia when the Test series starts [against South Africa]."

The addition would underline Somerset's ambition. They have already secured the services of Chris Gayle and Albie Morkel for their Friends Life t20 campaign and Vernon Philander, the in-form South Africa pace bowler, for the first couple of months of the season.

Somerset have finished as perennial runners-up in recent seasons - they have been beaten finalists in the last three T20 competitions, were second in the Championship in 2010 and have lost the last two CB40 finals - and are hungry to go one better. They also remain one of just three of the first-class counties (Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire are the others) not to have won the County Championship in what is somewhat euphemistically termed the modern era since 1890.

They also have the financial clout to sign such players. They recently announced the highest profit in the club's history - £408,000 before their Champions League prize money - and have redeveloped their ground without incurring significant debt. They retain ambitions to host international cricket in the not too distant future.

There is a growing concern, however, that Gayle's availability may be limited. If Gayle patches up his differences with West Indies coach Ottis Gibson it is probable that the batsman will be included in the squad that will tour England until June 24. Somerset's FLt20 program begins on June 13.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Juiceoftheapple on March 22, 2012, 18:31 GMT

    Would be VERY pleased if Starc or Cummins took over from Philander for second part of CC and Pro40 however, as per the earlier comments, it makes more sense with the balance and experience of our side.

  • Mervo on March 22, 2012, 10:52 GMT

    So much better than the rubbish IPL. What a total yawn that series is. Made for gamblers not cricket lovers.

  • loudmouth on March 22, 2012, 0:27 GMT

    This is Ponting's intent made clear - he's still hungry to adjust and improve to English wickets and be part of the 2013 Ashes squad. You've got to admire his ambition. I'm guessing Ponting could have put his hand up to play IPL but he clearly has other things on his mind. As for those who doubt Ponting's technique against the swinging ball just look at his record in overseas Ashes contests. He's scored a lot of runs against England for a long time now. Give him a run at Somerset and I'd say he could have a fantastic final series in Test match cricket. Of course there's a handful of younger Aussie batsman and bowlers I'd like to see come to the county circuit and gain experience. Pattinson / Starc / Cummins / Forrest / Cowan might find two warm up matches next July won't be enough to learn the 'green top' experience they'll need to challenge England. Makes you wonder why none of the Indians think to improve by spending more time here on the county circuit......

  • JG2704 on March 21, 2012, 21:16 GMT

    @5wombats on (March 20 2012, 19:19 PM GMT) Hello bud , missed your comms on the Eng threads although you probably don't agree re the 5 man bowling attck idea of mine. Hope you're back

  • Mary_786 on March 21, 2012, 13:52 GMT

    We will lose the ashes if Ponting plays, he can't handle the moving ball and will leave our batting order exposed, please ricky, put the team before your own monetary gain and retire while you are on a high.

  • ranjit.sg on March 21, 2012, 13:27 GMT

    @RandyOZ;hahahaha.. good one :D

  • on March 21, 2012, 12:43 GMT

    Excellent idea, let's keep Ricky Ponting in form for English conditions. Seriously though, it would be an excellent fillip for Somerset cricket and a chance for county fans to see more of an all time great.

  • bestbuddy on March 21, 2012, 12:33 GMT

    I'd like to thank Somerset for giving Philander a few months to get used to English conditions before the ENG vs SA series - very sporting of them...not so good for England though

  • mikeindex on March 21, 2012, 11:18 GMT

    @Asfand - is that the 'dismal run' that's seen us reach four consecutive limited-over finals, finish in the top four of the Championship three years in a row and be deprived of the title by a technicality? I think most counties would be pleased to be that dismal. However, while Ponting is still a good bat Somerset would be better off looking for a top-class bowler for their overseas player - a spearhead like Steyn or a top spinner like Ajmal. When will you guys who persist in arguing with Randy and Jonesy realise that they're the creation of a satirist?

  • jonesy2 on March 21, 2012, 10:31 GMT

    the great man will go and conquer. obviously. county crcket have never had a greater individual involved.

  • Juiceoftheapple on March 22, 2012, 18:31 GMT

    Would be VERY pleased if Starc or Cummins took over from Philander for second part of CC and Pro40 however, as per the earlier comments, it makes more sense with the balance and experience of our side.

  • Mervo on March 22, 2012, 10:52 GMT

    So much better than the rubbish IPL. What a total yawn that series is. Made for gamblers not cricket lovers.

  • loudmouth on March 22, 2012, 0:27 GMT

    This is Ponting's intent made clear - he's still hungry to adjust and improve to English wickets and be part of the 2013 Ashes squad. You've got to admire his ambition. I'm guessing Ponting could have put his hand up to play IPL but he clearly has other things on his mind. As for those who doubt Ponting's technique against the swinging ball just look at his record in overseas Ashes contests. He's scored a lot of runs against England for a long time now. Give him a run at Somerset and I'd say he could have a fantastic final series in Test match cricket. Of course there's a handful of younger Aussie batsman and bowlers I'd like to see come to the county circuit and gain experience. Pattinson / Starc / Cummins / Forrest / Cowan might find two warm up matches next July won't be enough to learn the 'green top' experience they'll need to challenge England. Makes you wonder why none of the Indians think to improve by spending more time here on the county circuit......

  • JG2704 on March 21, 2012, 21:16 GMT

    @5wombats on (March 20 2012, 19:19 PM GMT) Hello bud , missed your comms on the Eng threads although you probably don't agree re the 5 man bowling attck idea of mine. Hope you're back

  • Mary_786 on March 21, 2012, 13:52 GMT

    We will lose the ashes if Ponting plays, he can't handle the moving ball and will leave our batting order exposed, please ricky, put the team before your own monetary gain and retire while you are on a high.

  • ranjit.sg on March 21, 2012, 13:27 GMT

    @RandyOZ;hahahaha.. good one :D

  • on March 21, 2012, 12:43 GMT

    Excellent idea, let's keep Ricky Ponting in form for English conditions. Seriously though, it would be an excellent fillip for Somerset cricket and a chance for county fans to see more of an all time great.

  • bestbuddy on March 21, 2012, 12:33 GMT

    I'd like to thank Somerset for giving Philander a few months to get used to English conditions before the ENG vs SA series - very sporting of them...not so good for England though

  • mikeindex on March 21, 2012, 11:18 GMT

    @Asfand - is that the 'dismal run' that's seen us reach four consecutive limited-over finals, finish in the top four of the Championship three years in a row and be deprived of the title by a technicality? I think most counties would be pleased to be that dismal. However, while Ponting is still a good bat Somerset would be better off looking for a top-class bowler for their overseas player - a spearhead like Steyn or a top spinner like Ajmal. When will you guys who persist in arguing with Randy and Jonesy realise that they're the creation of a satirist?

  • jonesy2 on March 21, 2012, 10:31 GMT

    the great man will go and conquer. obviously. county crcket have never had a greater individual involved.

  • Green_and_Gold on March 21, 2012, 9:43 GMT

    @5wombats - How many other international batsman with 13,000+ test runs and 22,000+ first class runs do somerset have? Yeah, i think he is good enough!

  • 9ST9 on March 21, 2012, 7:32 GMT

    @zuber21886 - Who cares as long as IPL continues to thrive? India will lose series after series in Aus, Eng etc and then Sri kanth would say: 'If not for umpiring error's we'd have won' Players would remind us that England and Australia too lose when they play in the Subcontinent. Fans would compare Indias performance with their subcontinental rivals and be pleased about themselves. End of the day: Everyone's happy.

  • Hammond on March 21, 2012, 7:14 GMT

    Ponting better learn some proper batting technique otherwise his time at Somerset will be brutal and short- a lot like him playing an innings against English bowlers like Bresnan, Tremlett & Broad in the recent ashes series. Haven't seen an Aussie batsman with proper technique since Martyn- oh yeah he spent quite a few years at Leicestershire and Yorks learning how to bat properly.

  • anur8g on March 21, 2012, 5:50 GMT

    Ponting......The champ is here.

  • SHIYAD14 on March 21, 2012, 5:46 GMT

    oh ricky welcome to somerset.........

  • duralsumo on March 21, 2012, 1:28 GMT

    To Randy OZ you have to be kidding. Whilst I do think most "first class" cricket has lost its stature with the ambundance of one day and T20 tournaments. I still think that both the Sheffield Sheild and the English County cricket are two of the toughest comptetions anywhere. I think if there were similar imports in the shield and the protectionism there is at the moment it would improve our competition and prepare our players for the highest level. Further there should be more tour games scheduled this improves players against higher opposition.

    Yep I am from OZ.

  • JG2704 on March 20, 2012, 23:17 GMT

    Got to be honest , I have mixed feelings about Somerset's signings for next year. I'm absolutely made up that we have Phillander for the 1st few months. Personally I rate him up with Steyn as thee best overseas fast bowler. I'm pleased with the signing of Gayle provided he is fit. I'm not sure re Morkel. I know on his day he can really fire with the bat but - despite him not being included for SA's ODI's/T20s when Morkel is - I prefer Van Der Merwe as I feel he is a busier cricketer. As for Ponting - I like the guy and he is a modern legend but regardless of how he does this time round I'd have much preferred them to have gone for a bowler as their overseas player as I feel our batting is already strong enough and we do need another quality bowler on the Taunton wicket. BTW Does anyone know why VDM had visa probs. Gutted he won't be there for us.

  • hhillbumper on March 20, 2012, 21:23 GMT

    Randy Oz.Bless you we are just trying to keep Hughes at the level he is used to. must be tough having all those great players in Shield Cricket. As for those world class spin bowlers of yours well who can tell.

  • on March 20, 2012, 20:25 GMT

    this may be the time when The dismal run of somerset would change.beacause they have the inclusin of ricky ponting who is being raed as a great batsman in the past 15 to 16 years

  • 5wombats on March 20, 2012, 19:19 GMT

    My God - Ponting is actually serious about playing in The Ashes that Australia will lose again next year..... Question; is he good enough to play for Somerset though?

  • zuber21886 on March 20, 2012, 18:43 GMT

    why aren't BCCI people sending young players to county cricket, could do wonders!!

  • Munkeymomo on March 20, 2012, 16:49 GMT

    I would LOVE to see Ponting down at the county ground, great addition to the club.

    @RandyOZ: I thought you may be excited about Phil Hughes playing in the county championship, he hasn't scored a run since he left last time so may be a chance to pick up a few tips.

  • SDHM on March 20, 2012, 15:25 GMT

    Derek - I'm getting used to disappointment, so I'm deciding to stop expecting! If it comes, then it'll be a surprise. Would love to see Ponting back, and with the Vern for the first part of the season we have the firepower to start bowling sides out with regularity on the Taunton road. Would love to see Buttler getting regular first-class cricekt this season, and it's also time to start seeing if Lewis Gregory is the all-rounder we've been told he is - we've only really seen his bowling so far, but if his batting's half as exciting as that, he's a hell of a talent.

  • on March 20, 2012, 14:37 GMT

    Yes all depends on the bowlers, if we fire as a bowling unit, we will be tough to beat... wait and see and fingers crossed for any silverware coming to Somerset's hands this season....

  • Yevghenny on March 20, 2012, 14:35 GMT

    we would welcome you with open arms Ricky!

  • RandyOZ on March 20, 2012, 13:51 GMT

    Wow, with the addition of Hughes and Ponting in the weak county league it might actually give the competition some credit. They will both fit in quite well with the rest of the South Africans.

  • Juiceoftheapple on March 20, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    Trescothick, Compton, Ponting, Hildreth, Kieswetter, Buttler, Trego, Thomas, Gregory or Hussain, Dibble, Waller. 'This time more than any other time, this time, we're gonna find a way...etc..' - All depends on how our young bowlers do.

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  • Juiceoftheapple on March 20, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    Trescothick, Compton, Ponting, Hildreth, Kieswetter, Buttler, Trego, Thomas, Gregory or Hussain, Dibble, Waller. 'This time more than any other time, this time, we're gonna find a way...etc..' - All depends on how our young bowlers do.

  • RandyOZ on March 20, 2012, 13:51 GMT

    Wow, with the addition of Hughes and Ponting in the weak county league it might actually give the competition some credit. They will both fit in quite well with the rest of the South Africans.

  • Yevghenny on March 20, 2012, 14:35 GMT

    we would welcome you with open arms Ricky!

  • on March 20, 2012, 14:37 GMT

    Yes all depends on the bowlers, if we fire as a bowling unit, we will be tough to beat... wait and see and fingers crossed for any silverware coming to Somerset's hands this season....

  • SDHM on March 20, 2012, 15:25 GMT

    Derek - I'm getting used to disappointment, so I'm deciding to stop expecting! If it comes, then it'll be a surprise. Would love to see Ponting back, and with the Vern for the first part of the season we have the firepower to start bowling sides out with regularity on the Taunton road. Would love to see Buttler getting regular first-class cricekt this season, and it's also time to start seeing if Lewis Gregory is the all-rounder we've been told he is - we've only really seen his bowling so far, but if his batting's half as exciting as that, he's a hell of a talent.

  • Munkeymomo on March 20, 2012, 16:49 GMT

    I would LOVE to see Ponting down at the county ground, great addition to the club.

    @RandyOZ: I thought you may be excited about Phil Hughes playing in the county championship, he hasn't scored a run since he left last time so may be a chance to pick up a few tips.

  • zuber21886 on March 20, 2012, 18:43 GMT

    why aren't BCCI people sending young players to county cricket, could do wonders!!

  • 5wombats on March 20, 2012, 19:19 GMT

    My God - Ponting is actually serious about playing in The Ashes that Australia will lose again next year..... Question; is he good enough to play for Somerset though?

  • on March 20, 2012, 20:25 GMT

    this may be the time when The dismal run of somerset would change.beacause they have the inclusin of ricky ponting who is being raed as a great batsman in the past 15 to 16 years

  • hhillbumper on March 20, 2012, 21:23 GMT

    Randy Oz.Bless you we are just trying to keep Hughes at the level he is used to. must be tough having all those great players in Shield Cricket. As for those world class spin bowlers of yours well who can tell.