Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting to join Surrey
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has agreed a two-month deal to join Surrey this summer, the club have confirmed.
The 38-year-old has been signed to replace South Africa skipper Graeme Smith while he is expected to play in the Champions Trophy with the Proteas.
Ponting, who retired from international cricket in December, will be available in all formats in June and July.
The veteran right-hander will therefore be in England at the same time as Australia as they prepare for this summer's Ashes series.
Ponting made an emotional farewell to Test cricket, as the all-time second-leading runscorer, against Smith's South Africa in Perth in December.
Since then Mike Hussey also called time on his Australia career to leave Michael Clarke's side with an inexperienced batting line-up.
While there has been no indication Ponting would look to reverse his retirement call, he has previously stated his desire to play in one last Ashes series before the end of his career.
Ponting, who surrendered the past two Ashes series in England as captain at the Oval, is the second major coup for the club following Smith's signature.
"I'm really excited to be playing for Surrey this season," Ponting said in a statement on Surrey's official website.
"They are a forward thinking and historic club - and play at one of the greatest grounds in the world. It hasn't been the friendliest place for me but now it will be my home for two months this summer.
"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."
Smith signed a three-year deal to captain Surrey last November but the club were aware he was likely to be absent during the Champions Trophy, which begins on June 6 in Cardiff.
Surrey team director Chris Adams revealed the club had since been looking for an experienced replacement before landing the 168-Test veteran Ponting.
"We knew we would lose Graeme to the ICC Champions Trophy in June," Adams said.
"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."
Since his international retirement Ponting has continued to play domestic cricket in Australia for Tasmania.
He has been in good recent form, scoring an unbeaten double century against New South Wales earlier this month before hitting 95 in a one-day game against Western Australia on Tuesday.