Ricky Ponting will be a busy cricketer in the coming months. He will be seen in action for IPL team Mumbai Indians in India, for Surrey in England and thereafter for one of the six teams in the Caribbean Premier League to be played from July 29 to August 26.
After playing his part in Tasmania’s triumph in the Sheffield Shield and adjudged as player of the Australia premier tournament, Ponting has expressed his desire to play one more year of domestic first class cricket.
After a four-match stint with Kolkata Knight Riders in the inaugural IPL in 2008, Ponting is all excited returning to the IPL after a four-year gap and this time as captain of the Mumbai Indians.
“Obviously I am excited to be back in the IPL. When I finished the last time (2008) I hoped to be able to come back and play in the IPL again. The way things have worked out with my retirement from international cricket and finish off the domestic season for Tasmania, it has given me an opportunity to be back here. There is no better franchise and no better team to be with than the Mumbai Indians,’’ said Ponting who made 39 runs to finish 13th in the KKR batting averages in 2008.
Excerpts from the media interaction:
How much has T20 evolved: The whole game of cricket has evolved dramatically. Ever since the introduction of Twenty20 the range of skills (batting, bowling and fielding) has been vastly different than what it was before. The amount of slow ball variations, unorthodox spin bowling and guys with different actions has had a great impact on the game around the world. Some of the reverse sweep shots and the power hitting is a big thing we are seeing in Twenty20. We were just talking about hundreds of sixes hit in the IPL every year….that’s a lot of entertainment to the fans.
Watching IPL 2 to 5: Of course I followed the IPL. I am one of those people who follow cricket all around the world. Doesn’t matter whether it’s the IPL, Test series in India or in England….I have always kept a very close eye on what’s happening. MI have a pretty proud tradition finishing at the top or being in the semifinals. We have not obviously cracked winning the tournament, hopefully it could be this year.
Leading MI with Sachin in the team: Once you are the captain of any franchise, it’s really exciting, but to think that I am the captain of the Mumbai Indians, it’s even more. I will be playing alongside Sachin and Harbhajan and a lot of guys with whom I have played against over the years, as well as some of my Australian teammates and some of the young local Indian talent. I think the build-up to any series is a lot of fun and when it is as big as the IPL it is a bit more. The excitement is very high around the group. I am looking forward to playing in the tournament.
Challenges in IPL: The biggest challenge so far has been to get the squad to play together. We have international players playing around the world and we have got guys coming in quite late and we are flying to Bangalore tonight. That’s the biggest challenge every team will face leading to this IPL. Yes, we have moved on now. We have John Wright, the ex-Indian coach and a successful coach and Anil Kumble, an ex-Indian captain, a successful player and leader and me coming into the set-up as one who is very experienced and has played in all conditions. We have put together a really strong leadership group and when you think of some other players around the team, like Sachin and Harbhajan, we have got a lot of experience and great skill.
Being away from home after retirement: I have been travelling a little bit more after retirement. It goes to show that I love the game. The reason I did not come back to IPL 2 and 3 was because I was busy with international cricket around that time. Now that I don’t play international cricket, it gives the opportunity to play domestic tournaments and that’s really opening up. My aim is to ensure I am the best player and leader for the MI in the next two months. I have had the chance to lead Australia and Tasmania for a long time and have a fair idea of what makes a team really successful.
Bitter memories (2007-08 tour): We are all friends for the next two months. That’s one thing I have made sure with the guys. Sachin and Harbhajan have not joined the team so far, but we are all one. Trust me we will not leave any stone unturned as far as our preparations are concerned.