Thursday, 21 February 2013

Ponting signs for 2 months

Surrey have this morning announced the signing of former Australian captain Ricky Ponting on a two month contract.

It is a huge coup for the club, after already signing Graeme Smith towards the end of last year, with Ponting coming for the entirety of June and July. During June, Smith is likely to be away with South Africa for the ICC Champions Trophy, so Ponting will initially be cover for our new captain, playing in all 3 formats of the game. He will be able to play at this year’s Guildford Festival at the beginning of June, as well as the whole of the Friends Life Twenty 20 campaign, which ends on the 31st of July at Chelmsford.

Smith is unlikely to be available for most of the Twenty 20 campaign, as South Africa tour Sri Lanka towards the end of July for a 5 match ODI series that he will probably be part of, so Ponting is a fine replacement on and off the pitch for when he’s not here.

Scoring 13,378 test runs at an average of 51.85 just shows what a great batsman we have acquired, and despite him retiring from International cricket towards the end of 2012, Ponting has been in prime form for his state side Tasmania. He has scored 595 runs at an average of 119.00 in 6 matches, top scoring with an unbeaten 200, so there is no doubt that he can still play.

His knowledge and experience is second to none in the world of cricket, and is arguably one of the greatest test captains of all time. Hopefully some of this knowledge and experience can be transferred onto our younger players, such as Dominic Sibley and Rory Burns, benefiting them and the club in the process.

It is the 4th signing we have made in the close season, and all 4 are over the age of 30, with 3 of them in Solanki, Keedy and Ponting all in their late 30’s. Critics would say that we aren’t exactly building for the future, with the average age of the squad going up considerably in recent months. However, Ponting is only coming for a couple of months, and I can only see the positives in the move, as he will come into a side that was in need of a desperate shake-up after the difficult season we had last year.

It is unclear whether Ponting will captain the side when Smith is unavailable, but it seems unlikely that he would, due to the short time that he is here, but whoever steps in for Smith will get help on that front from the Tasmanian you would have thought.

Finally, I would just like to congratulate the management on this signing, which will hopefully contribute to bringing back the good days over the next few years. I’m not expecting us to be challenging on all 3 fronts this coming season, but hopefully we can improve on last season, and with Ponting, try and reach the quarter finals of the Twenty 20 for the first time since 2006.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Surrey Players Abroad: Part 4

While some of the Surrey first team squad are in the UK preparing for next season, a number of them have travelled abroad, plying their trade for a variety of teams in all formats of the game. Here is the 4th instalment of how they have been getting on over the last 30 days.

Zander de Bruyn
Zander de Bruyn has finally found some form with the bat for the Highveld Lions in recent weeks, hitting 68 and 49 against Dolphins in the Sunfoil Series at the beginning of last month.  He then scored just 1 in the following match against Cape Cobras, but did take 8 wickets, including 5-39 in the first innings, with his right arm swing being used far more than with us last season. He backed that game up with another half century against Titans in mid-January, but in his next two games, he could only muster 35 in 3 innings, as he failed to find true consistency.

Jade Dernbach
No one will argue with me when I say that January wasn’t a very good month for Jade Dernbach. After impressing in the two warm up games against Delhi and India A, where he claimed 3 wickets at less than 5 an over, everything went downhill from there on in. With England winning the high-scoring first ODI, going at almost 7 an over and claiming 2 wickets perhaps wasn’t a bad return for Jade. However, when you are going at that economy rate all of the time, there must be a problem. He went for 73 in the 2nd ODI, 45 off 5 overs in the 3rd and 59 off 9 in the 4th. However much I like Jade, and want him to do well for England, I think it was poor management from Ashley Giles to persist on picking him after the second ODI. A man who usually oozes confidence was really suffering in that department, not being able to bowl consistently throughout the tour. He has been left out of the ODI squad which will tour New Zealand this month, but has been named in the T20 squad for later this week.

Stuart Meaker
With Jade putting in a string of poor performances, you would have thought that Meaks would have had more of a go against India. However, he was left out of the side for all 5 ODI’s. He has been named in the Twenty20 squad to play New Zealand later this week, so hopefully he will get a game, before making the short trip to Australia with the England Lions. However, a neck injury may prevent him from doing so, with James Harris called up as cover.

Kevin Pietersen
Despite getting several good starts, KP didn’t really show his best form in the ODI series against India. A couple of 40’s and a 76 was the best it got from him, which to be fair was considerably better than most England batsman, but it never seemed as if he was in the best of nick. He has been rested from the Twenty20 squad to play New Zealand this week, before playing in the ODI series thereafter.

Jason Roy
Like last year, Jason Roy has travelled half way across the globe to play for the Chittagong Kings in the Bangladesh Premier League. However, it hasn’t gone as well as he would have hoped. With scores of 5 in the first two games of the tournament, he was dropped from the side and as yet hasn’t been reinstated in the side. Even though he hasn’t batted for long, what I have seen of him in the tournament was similar to how he played in the T20 last year, lacking confidence and being tentative in his play. Something needs to change, as he has a big role to play next season.

Dominic Sibley
After being named in England’s Under 19 squad to tour South Africa, 17 year old Sibley has made a fantastic start in the first few games. Before the series against South Africa Under 19’s, Sibley played a 2 day tour match against a Western Cape Invitational X1, where, even though they lost by 7 wickets, Sibley impressed in the second innings by scoring 54 before retiring out. In the first Youth Test, England Under 19’s comfortably beat South Africa, with Sibley scoring an important half century in the second innings, after being dismissed for 0 in the first. However, it was the second Test where he really shone, carrying his bat with a superb 112* in the first innings, with the next best England score being just 29. But he could only muster 23 in the second innings, with South Africa levelling the series at 1-1 with a 67 run victory.

Graeme Smith
Our skipper has had an up and down month with South Africa. They completed the test series against New Zealand with an innings victory, in which Smith scored 54. They then surprisingly lost the ODI series with New Zealand 2-1, despite Smith scoring a half century and a match winning century in the final game of the three match series. After playing New Zealand, Pakistan were the next opponents in a test series, and the first match was Smith’s 100th test as captain; the first to ever do such a thing. They won the match with ease, with Smith scoring a half century and leading his side to a 211 run victory.