Johannesburg - Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting is the first international franchise player to be announced by the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), and says he “cannot wait” to head back this year to the place where it all began for him.
According to the supersport.com website, Ponting, who has done virtually everything in a stellar career that includes three ICC Cricket World Cup wins, took part in his first senior tour in 1995 when he went to the West Indies with Mark Taylor’s squad. Eighteen years later, he’s played 40 international matches in the West Indies but now he returns to make history as part of the inaugural franchise-based league.
Ponting is the first big name international player to be announced for the CPL, and others will follow soon. The CPL is scheduled to take place from 29 July to 26 August in six franchise countries: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia and Trinidad & Tobago.
“The West Indies has always been one of my favourite cricket destinations,” said Ponting. “The mix of entertainment and cricket is the perfect recipe for West Indian cricket fans as well as the rest of the world.”
Ponting toured the West Indies six times with Australia – in 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007 (for the ICC Cricket World Cup), 2008 and 2012 – but he has never batted in Twenty20 cricket in the Caribbean as his one Twenty20 International (T20I) in 2008 was rain-affected. As a result, the 38 year-old is looking to put that right when the CPL gets under way in July.
“The format and concept is just fantastic and I am sure it will be a huge success right from the start,” he said.
Also confirmed alongside Ponting are the six West Indies franchise players for the tournament: Darren Sammy, Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard and Marlon Samuels.
Ponting will find out which franchise he will be lining up for with the CPL draft that is planned to take place at the end of May, the details of which will be announced shortly.
Ponting’s career figures mark him down as one of the all-time greats. In 168 tests he scored 13 378 test runs, another 13 704 runs in 375 ODIs and 401 runs in 17 T20Is.
He made 71 international hundreds (41 in tests and 30 in ODIs) and captained his side in 77 tests, 230 ODIs and all 17 of those T20Is he played. He played in the first-ever T20I, in February 2005, where he made 98 against New Zealand.
Ponting’s appearance in the CPL will be another high-profile stop for him in a busy year since retiring from international action in December 2012. He began 2013 playing for his native Tasmania in first-class and one-day cricket, and the Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League, scoring 236 runs in seven matches at a strike-rate of 121.02 in the latter tournament.
Ahead of the CPL he will appear for the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League and then move on to English county side Surrey, where he will fill in for South Africa test captain Graeme Smith during the ICC Champions Trophy tournament.
Ninety players will be contracted to play in the CPL. Each of the six Franchise teams will be comprised of 15 players. All teams are required to have a minimum number of local players from that particular country. At least four of them must be under the age of 23, and teams can also field a maximum of four international players. The remainder of the team must consist of regional and/or local players.