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Ex-Australia captain Ricky Ponting has given the concept of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League (LCPL) his thumbs-up.
The batting legend, who made his first senior international tour with his country to the Caribbean in 1995, has been playing for the Antigua Hawksbills, and he said the inaugural tournament involving six franchises was exactly what the region had been crying out for.
“The style of cricket the West Indies play is really suited to this format of the game,” he said. “If you look at (Chris) Gayle, (Kieron) Pollard, Marlon Samuels – they have got some really terrific Twenty20 players. The West Indies fans and players have really embraced Twenty20 cricket and it has gone really well. The crowds have enjoyed it and they have come out in big numbers wherever we have been.
Ponting said the concept is great, and it’s right but the biggest challenge now for these types of events is finding the right time in the calendar. Quality of pitches and attracting the world’s best players to the Caribbean would also be hurdles for the organisers in future but he believes those hurdles are ones that can be overcome.
“We have seen that some players who committed to play two or three months ago have not been able to make it and that is going to be a challenge moving forward – how they attract the bigger name players – but the way this event has gone, I am sure they will be able to do that,” he said. “From a cricketing point of view the pitches are so important. In this tournament we have had low-scoring games but otherwise they have been reasonably close as well so the competition has gone really well so far.”
For Ponting, a triple ICC Cricket World Cup winner, with 27,483 international runs, 71 hundreds for his country at Test and One-Day International (ODI) level and a total of 560 appearances for Australia in Tests, ODIs and Twenty20 Internationals, this tournament has been part of his swansong to playing the game he loves so much.
At 38 years old and with a young family, he dismissed the idea that he might change his mind about retiring this year.
“No, I’ve definitely no thoughts of that,” he said. “It has been a pretty hard period for me, I have been away for six months straight.
“I went to the IPL, I went straight from there to Surrey and then straight from there to here for the Limacol CPL. For someone of my age, that is a little bit too long with a couple of little girls at home – I am missing them a lot.
“I have been travelling for 20 or 21 years so it is time for me to settle back into a normal life after this tournament.
So, depending on how we go in our next game, if we do not qualify for the semi-finals then Saturday (against the Guyana Amazon Warriors) could be my last game of cricket.”
And what is his take on the ongoing Ashes series?
“I have kept in touch with it and putting my biased goggles on for a minute I think the boys have probably played a little bit better than the scoreline suggests as they have been in with a chance of winning three Tests,” he said.
“But the scoreline reads 3-0 and that is the difference sometimes between the really good and experienced teams and the ones on their way up – the know-how – to actually get across the line and to win games.
“That is what England have done. They have got a really good team, an experienced team and their bowling group has been together for pretty much the last six or seven years now.
“There are some challenges there for Australia cricket but with Darren Lehmann’s appointment as coach and some of the younger guys they have got around there I think there is enough talent but they are just going to have to learn and at the moment they are learning the hard way.”
The coming Australian summer will see Ponting in the television commentary box covering the Big Bash League but he also sees himself staying within the game in a more hands-on sense.
“There is no doubt I will stay in the game somewhere,” he said. “There will be some coaching offers that will come my way and I am really interested in coaching. I’m really interested in heping out younger players.
“The state Australian cricket is at, at the moment my services could be used in some way. We will just wait and see but the one thing I do not want to do is to travel around the world for six or eight months a year.”