Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ponting Signs for Surrey; Former Aussie Skipper Returns to England for the Ashes ...but This Time He Will Be Hoping for Happier Memories from the Oval

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ponting Signs for Surrey; Former Aussie Skipper Returns to England for the Ashes ...but This Time He Will Be Hoping for Happier Memories from the Oval

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Collomosse Cricket Correspondent exclusive

RICKY PONTING will be in England during this summer's Ashes series after signing a short-term deal to play for Surrey in a significant coup for the county.

The former captain of Australia, who led his country on their last two Ashes tours, in 2005 and 2009, but retired from the international game in December, will play for Surrey during June and July, when Graeme Smith, the county's new skipper and other high-profile signing, is due to represent South Africa in the ICC Champions Trophy.

Ponting has appeared in county cricket before, during a short spell for Somerset in 2004. He is one of the most accomplished batsmen of the last 20 years and is best-known to English followers for his exploits in the Ashes, during which he was on the winning side for five series but lost three of his four as skipper.

Ponting's spell at Surrey coincides with this year's battle for the Urn, which starts at Trent Bridge on July 10. The batsman said: "It will be very strange to know that a few hours away there will be an Ashes Test going on and I won't be part of it.

"But I've had a chance to think about all that over the last three or four months and just to be in the country while a series like that is happening will be a lot of fun.

"I thought my days of playing in England might have been over after I knew I wasn't going to be on the Ashes tour this year. I've probably got a few too many bad memories from the Oval because of Ashes series gone by [Australia lost the last two campaigns in England at the ground] so I hope I can walk away with some better ones this time."

Even though Ponting appears to have given up on playing in the Ashes, consider the scenario if two Australia batsmen suffer injuries during the early part of the series and, at the same time, Ponting is scoring dozens of runs in county cricket right under the noses of some of his former team-mates.

In that situation it is easy to see Michael Clarke and Mickey Arthur, Australia's captain and coach respectively, deciding to send for the Tasmanian -- and equally straightforward to imagine what his response would be. …

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