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The batsman of his generation for many, Ricky Ponting could be excused for relaxing his relentless intensity and assuming the miles in his legs and thousands of runs on the board will allow him to coast through the final months of his ridiculously impressive career, but of course that’s a load of rubbish.

Just like in an Ashes series whitewash or one of his World Cup wins, he tells TNT his hunger to win hasn’t waned. It’s great news for Surrey, who have him among their number until the end of the month for a string of Friends Life T20 and County Championship games in London.

“It’s every team I play for mate, it’s not about enjoying games, it’s about winning games, and I’ll do whatever it takes to give Surrey the best chance of winning in every game that I play in,” he tells us ahead of six T20 games in four weeks (five at the Oval, one at Lord’s) and his final Championship game against Nottinghamshire (July 8).

“I was lucky enough to get a few runs first up (he debuted in Derby with 192) and we got ourselves into a position where we potentially could have won the game … I just want to keep contributing every time I step onto the field.”

It shouldn’t be a surprise, but for a bloke who will retire from all forms of cricket in October after the T20 Champions League in India, he sounds like a kid pushing for his first Test. 

After giving up the five-dayers last year, pressure seems to have lifted from his 38-year-old shoulders and it’s shown on the field, winning the Sheffield Shield with his beloved Tasmania and picking up the competition’s best player award along the way. He also took over as Mumbai Indians’ captain and led them to victory in the Indian Premier League.

Even before he rocked up in the UK to fill in short-term for South African skipper Graeme Smith, his presence brought excitement. England’s public enemy number one was welcomed with open arms, with players all singing his praises as not just a great player, but mentor. “It’s not just with the bat but his knowledge, we’re very blessed at the moment,” Surrey captain Gareth Batty said of Ponting, who was offered the leadership role but turned it down.

His cool head has been welcome anyway, as Surrey’s coach and team director were sacked, replaced in the interim by former Test player Alec Stewart. Ponting says he’s been humbled by the response of fans and players. “I guess [it’s] just being around an Ashes year,” he says. “Being an ex-Australian captain and an Ashes series being on makes it a bit more of a thing, me being here. It’s just exciting to be in the country with an Ashes about to start. At the same time I’m excited at the opportunity with Surrey.”

With his retirement, Ponting’s last game on home turf will have been at Bellerive Oval. Among his last in England will be the Oval, a ground he’d like to have some more pleasant memories of: ”Usually when I’ve been there it’s been watching the opposition captain going up to collect the Ashes, so it’d be nice to have a better experience here.” 


Interview - Ricky Ponting: The former Aussie skipper vows to fight hard for runs and wins - he knows no other way
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