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Surrey bring in Ponting as Smith cover

ESPNcricinfo staff

February 21, 2013

Comments: 28 | Text size: A | A

Ricky Ponting pulls during the tour game, Prime Minister's XI v West Indians, Canberra, January 29, 2013
Ricky Ponting will cover for Graeme Smith at Surrey © Getty Images
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Surrey have pulled off a second major signing by securing the services of Ricky Ponting for June and July this season.

Ponting, who retired from international cricket after the third Test against South Africa in Perth in December, will fill in as the county's overseas player while Graeme Smith, who signed a three-year deal as Surrey's new captain, is playing in the Champions Trophy for South Africa.

The signing of one of the best batsman to have ever played the game is testament to the pulling power of Surrey, who signed another world great, Smith, to lead their revival. Ponting turned down the chance to play for Somerset last season, despite a gap in the international calendar.

Ponting, 38, could play in four County Championship matches - against Warwickshire, Sussex, Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire - and two Yorkshire Bank 40 League matches - against Essex and Lancashire - providing a highlight for the 75th anniversary of the Guildford festival.

He will also play in the group stages of the Friends Life t20 where a mouth-watering line up of Ponting, Smith and Kevin Pietersen will feature in probably the most talented batting order ever assembled in the competition. Surrey will be hoping those three names are a guarantee not only of large attendances at The Oval but a reversal of their terrible performance in the competition last season where they finished bottom of the South group.

Ponting, 38, continues to show his appetite for the game and has returned to play for his state side Tasmania. He scored an unbeaten 200 in his last first-class match against New South Wales.

His career record is among the best of any batsman to have played the game: 13,378 Test runs at 51.85, 13,704 ODI runs at 42.03, 23,313 first-class runs at 55.50 - remarkable figures. Surrey will be hoping he replicates his impact of his previous stint in county cricket with Somerset in 2004. He averaged 99 from both three Championship matches and four one-day games, with three centuries.

Ponting said he was "really excited" about the chance to play for Surrey. "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. 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."

Ponting has never made a century at The Oval and has a high score of 66 in his four Tests there. His best innings was 92 in his final ODI on the ground in 2010.

Smith said Ponting was a great person to have involved with the club. "I was proud that they were looking at him. I have a lot of respect for Ricky. Hopefully both of us will be able to create some new philosophies at the club and hopefully we will have success there."

Surrey Team Director Chris Adams added: "We knew we would lose Graeme to the Champions Trophy in June. 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."

Ponting becomes the latest very experienced cricketer to be brought in by Surrey. Jon Lewis, 37, was signed last season and for 2013, along with Smith, Vikram Solanki, the 36-year-old former Worcestershire batsman, and left-arm spinner Gary Keedy, 38, have both been signed to boost an otherwise young, inexperienced squad.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (February 23, 2013, 8:43 GMT)

On one level this is a fantastic signing. Fans will flock to The Oval to watch. If I get the chance, I will join them. On another level though there is something disconcerting going on. Surrey have lost a group of talented youngsters and they have been replaced by a series of players who will be some of the very oldest on the county circuit. The players who have left averaged 24 years old; the new ones signed average 36 years old, supporting other such as Jon Lewis who are already fixtures in the side.

Posted by Supersax on (February 22, 2013, 13:59 GMT)

Given that Durham must start with a points deduction for breaching the salary cap of £1.8 million, I'd be interested to see Surrey's wage bill. I find it hard to believe it can be less...

Posted by jmcilhinney on (February 22, 2013, 2:58 GMT)

@funkyandy on (February 21, 2013, 18:54 GMT), while I agree on Dernbach's limitations I don't agree on his roots. He was a rugby player in SA so, as a cricketer, he is very much a Surrey product. Whether or not that's something to be proud of is up to you. Meaker too was only 12 when his parents emigrated so I'm guessing that Surrey had some input into his development too.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (February 22, 2013, 0:11 GMT)

Ponting playing for Surrey will be great, I'll go along to see him. Expect a few tantrums if you do.

Posted by whoster on (February 21, 2013, 23:49 GMT)

It's weird to think that Ponting will be playing County Championship cricket while The Ashes is going on. It's a great signing for Surrey - he may not be the player he was, but I'd think he's still good enough to score a lot of runs for them. Must try and get to a match - may be the last chance to see this great player.

Posted by Clive_Dunn on (February 21, 2013, 22:38 GMT)

Well at least the Punter signing will give the Surrey faithful a last chance to reminisce over the bygone days of great Aussie batsmen. When I were t'lad the Aussies had a queue of test quality batsmen who realistically were never going to get a test run despite fantastic stats at domestic level. And now Ed Cowan is a test opener, Phil Hughes the next big thing and Steve Smith a test 6. It's a true riches to rags story, starring the ghost of Stu Law.

Posted by WilliamFranklin on (February 21, 2013, 21:15 GMT)

@funckyandy well that and being the second most successful county in history. As for developing players for England no county has provided more caps for England than Surrey, but don't let that get in the way of a little jealousy.

Funny about the comments about blocking the way for young players, doubt many counties have given younger players more chance than Surrey in recent seasons; Burns last season for instance.

Posted by sephotrig on (February 21, 2013, 20:38 GMT)

Wven though he has retired from tests the Aussies can always roll him out to replace the jokers in the middle order that they have now when they go 3-0 down in the Ashes

Posted by lebigfella on (February 21, 2013, 19:38 GMT)

Awesome signing... I remember Ponting being bandied around as a future great when I was in Australia 20 years ago... the excitement & anticipation of the Aussies then was emphatically justified. Surely even they could have never dreamed of the record & impact the man has had in the game. He is a true great and I will endeavour to get to Woodbridge Road to get a glimpse... good on ya Surrey and good luck to you all for 2013!!!

Posted by voice_of_reason on (February 21, 2013, 19:07 GMT)

I'd rather see the Counties pay to have overseas players of stature, like Smith and Ponting, than fill up with little known South Africans on an EU passport. It brings glamour back to the County game and the younger cricketers can learn from them.

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