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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.

Posted by funkyandy on (February 21, 2013, 18:54 GMT)

"testament to the pulling power of Surrey" - ie MONEY!!! Surrey have produced no English cricketers since the glory days of Butch, Stewie and Thorpe (Meaker and Dernbach are limited South African cricketers!) and Ricky's signing will block the pathway for another young English cricketer. I really do hope that moneybags get relegated next season!

Posted by RandyOZ on (February 21, 2013, 14:56 GMT)

Surrey will be dominant this season then. Bit of a drop in standards for punter though coming from the shield and tasmanian rural systems.

Posted by Robster1 on (February 21, 2013, 14:55 GMT)

Although Smith is a quite superb leader and opening bat for SA, signing him was never a particularly good idea as his international and IPL commitments mean that his availability wasn't going to be good. And all these new elderly players taking the places of budding youngsters who were coming through the Surrey system.

Posted by SirViv1973 on (February 21, 2013, 14:15 GMT)

It's nice to see that even though he has retired from International cricket, Punter still wants to play some proper cricket & not just T20 nonsense.

Posted by Kidderwolf on (February 21, 2013, 13:12 GMT)

So for the T20 it looks like the batting could very well be opened up by a combination of the 3 highly paid players mentioned above. Hardly seems fair to the other lads who have been there years who may not get their chances now.

Posted by brusselslion on (February 21, 2013, 12:40 GMT)

@Nutcutlet on (February 21, 2013, 10:30 GMT): As a fellow Surrey supporter, I think that you are being a little bit harsh. There's no doubt that we have been mercenary when it has come to pursuing the 20/20 crown (not that it has done us much good; Dirk Nannes anyone?). However, I'm not totally opposed to bringing in Smith and Ponting. As you know, we were building the team around the captaincy of Hamilton-Brown, however, following last season's unfortunate event, Rory's left us. I believe that the best way forward now is for an experienced captain to guide our youngsters forward. Unlike you, I think that we do OK re home grown players: Meaker, Dernbach, Roy, Harinath & Burns are all fairly established and Dunn, Edwards, Ansari, Lancefield and Jewell are on the fringe of the 1st team. I just hope that our lads can learn something from Smith and Ponting. Mind you, I thought Batty did a great job as stand-in skipper last year and I certainly wouldn't have been against him continuing.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 12:23 GMT)

Smith just turned 32 years old during the first test against Pakistan. Please kindly refrain from calling him a has-been or never-was. You will have to watch this "has-been" churn out many more hundreds at test level for a good 4 years or so. Hope you enjoy it!

Posted by countjimmoriarty on (February 21, 2013, 11:58 GMT)

Surrey forward thinking? That will be why they've signed a bunch of clapped-out has-beens and never-weres this winter then...

Posted by PACERONE on (February 21, 2013, 11:44 GMT)

If Pointing does well playing for surrey,he might be drafted back into the Aussie side when their batsmen fail badly or are injured.Thanks Surrey.

Posted by skilebow on (February 21, 2013, 11:22 GMT)

CricketMaan - Thats an interesting idea. As a yorkshire fan currently staring at the enormous hole in our batting lineup caused by England success and retirements maybe a call to bring Sachin back is the answer!

Posted by SJC1000 on (February 21, 2013, 11:18 GMT)

How on Earth are Surrey operating withing the salary cap?

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 11:08 GMT)

What a wonderfully refreshing comment to see after an article on this site, I refer to that of Nutcutlet. As a lifelong Warwickshire fan, contests with Surrey (and Yorkshire) are always keenly fought, however as Nutcutlet says, buying older players for short term success might do just that but I feel what has been lost has is building up of a relationship between players and spectators over several years resulting in greater identification with the club and its players on the part of its supporters.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 11:01 GMT)

Another completely ridiculous signing. Probably more surprised by Smith joining though, while still captain of SA. Might even be tempted to watch a FC game at this rate!!

Posted by CricketMaan on (February 21, 2013, 10:40 GMT)

With SRT retiring from ODIs, will he play county? i doubt!!

Posted by Nutcutlet on (February 21, 2013, 10:30 GMT)

In cricketing terms, Surrey appears to have a bottomless purse: are they being backed by a coterie of (supply your own preferred adjective of contempt here) City bankers , I wonder? Once, beating Surrey was regarded by other counties as a contest spiced by the knowledge that Surrey had an enviable & proud reputation (like Yorks) of being a county that had taken the pennant home more times than most other counties could dream of, because they had raised players from their own ranks - & they were v good! No more, it seems. Increasingly, Surrey is a bought side -- gambling substantial sums that must be being paid to Biff & now Punter (both looking toward retirement very soon) works out & that puts matches v Surrey on another footing entirely: now it's: we want to best the rich mercenaries, trying to short-cut their way to trophies. As a life-long Surrey supporter, I feel v ambivalent towards this attitude. I want to take delight in the performances of home-grown players, not hired guns.

Posted by skilebow on (February 21, 2013, 10:21 GMT)

jonesy2 - lets not forget that Richards, Tendulkar and lara have all played county cricket. Ricky is very goo, a great in fact, but he is not up with these guys

Posted by AB_DeVilliers on (February 21, 2013, 10:08 GMT)

@jonesy2 - Smith does not qualify for the Ashes mate :P

Posted by jonesy2 on (February 21, 2013, 9:57 GMT)

wow. greatest batsman to play ever play county cricket? also, a cheeky ashes comeback on the cards? captivating stuff

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