Ricky Ponting has been named as the assistant coach for the Australian team that will take on England and New Zealand in a T20 tri-series. Former Australia captain Ponting will assist Darren Lehmann and had the same role last year against Sri Lanka. Australia face England in five one-day internationals starting on Sunday in Melbourne before the T20 tri-series begins on February 3 in Sydney.
Lehmann’s regular support staff comprising Graeme Hick, David Saker and Brad Haddin will leave early to begin preparations for Australia’s tour of South Africa in March. Besides Ponting, women’s head coach Matthew Mott and head of the national performance program Troy Cooley will become Lehmann’s assistants during the series that will be played on both sides of the Tasman.
Ponting has been in discussion with Cricket Australia for some time now to address their historically poor record in limited over competition. The role as an assistant is only temporary, but he’s open to a full-time coaching responsibility in the future. “There’s a fair bit of talk about splitting the (head coach) roles up and I’m just delighted my name is one that’s come up for that permanent role down the track,” Ponting said.
“But we’ll wait and see how this goes first. I know I’d enjoy it if I had the opportunity to do it and if I could make it work in with the other commitments I have and with family time,” he added.
Ponting who has previously been part of the coaching staff at Mumbai Indians and most recently appointed as Delhi Daredevils coach, had been part of Australia’s coaching team against Sri Lanka alongside Jason Gillespie and Justin Langer.
“I seem to spend my whole life around Twenty20 cricket now with commentating on the Big Bash and coaching in the IPL,” Ponting said. “I think I’ve got a pretty good grasp on the game and we’ll see how it goes.”
The legendary batsman said working with Lehmann, a former teammate, was a big opportunity that he didn’t want to pass. “We’re great mates,” he said. “We enjoyed batting together and we enjoyed playing together, so I’ve no doubt at all we’ll enjoy working together as coach and assistant coach. I’ve got a bit of a coaching bug, I love being around the game and being around the best players and I love being able to feel like you’ve got some impact on the way they play their cricket.”
Australia are seventh in the T20 rankings with ICC World T20 title a big miss in their trophy cabinet. The next tournament is two-and-a-half-years away but Lehmann maintained the planning needs to begin early. “Ricky has a fantastic cricket brain and when it comes to Twenty20 cricket there aren’t many better in the world given his experience around the world, as a player, a coach and a commentator,” Lehmann said in a statement.
“It’s an exciting prospect for us, as coaches, to have the chance to take advantage of Ricky’s Twenty20 knowledge and, for the players, the chance to work with one of Australia’s all-time greats will be just as exciting for them. The ICC World Twenty20 trophy is the only one that’s missing from the trophy cabinet at Cricket Australia and it would be great for us to put that right during the next edition of the tournament on home soil in 2020.”