Ricky Ponting signs for Surrey

The man all England cricket fans loved to hate will be playing his cricket in Surrey this summer. Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting, on the receiving end of Ashes series defeats in 2005, 2009 and 2011, has signed a short-term contract to play for the county.

The 38 year-old batsman will provide cover for Surrey’s South African star Graeme Smith while Smith captains his country in the Champions Trophy in June and July. That means a return for Ponting to the Oval, unhappy scene of Ashes debacles with Australia.

Ponting wasn’t too bothered about the Oval’s history. "It hasn't been the friendliest place for me but now it will be my home for two months this summer," he said, for once neglecting to preface a comment with his catchphrase "Ah, look".

"I'm really excited to be playing for Surrey this season," he added. "They are a forward thinking and historic club – and play at one of the greatest grounds in the world. 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."

Ponting will probably get a warm welcome from Surrey supporters who will forgive him his somewhat ill-tempered outbursts during the 2005 Ashes. Ponting’s more gracious subsequent response to Ashes disappointment won respect for his captaincy.

After retiring from Test cricket, Ponting has maintained his form and scored impressively in the Sheffield Shield for Tasmania. Surrey's Team Director Chris Adams explained the signing: "We knew we would lose Graeme to the ICC 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."

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