BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC):
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has been announced as the first international franchise player for the inaugural Caribbean Premiere League (CPL) scheduled for later this year.
Ponting, who has toured the Caribbean six times between 1995 and 2012, will find out which franchise he will be lining up for at the CPL draft planned for May.
The CPL is scheduled to take place from July 26 to August 26 in six franchise countries - Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia and Trinidad & Tobago.
"The West Indies has always been one of my favourite cricket destinations," said Ponting.
"The mix of entertainment and cricket is the perfect recipe for West Indian cricket fans as well as the rest of the world."
Ponting is the first big-name international player to be announced for the CPL, and organisers say others will follow soon.
Already confirmed are the six West Indies franchise players - Darren Sammy, Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, and Marlon Samuels.
"The format and concept are just fantastic, and I am sure it will be a huge success right from the start," Ponting said.
Ponting's appearance in the CPL will be another high-profile stop for him in a busy year since retiring from international action in December 2012.
He began 2013 playing for his native Tasmania in first-class and one-day cricket and the Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League. Ahead of the CPL, he will appear for the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League and then move on to English county side Surrey, where he will fill in for South Africa Test captain Graeme Smith during the ICC Champions Trophy tournament.
Considered as one of the all-time greats, Ponting has played in 168 Tests, scoring 13,378 Test runs, another 13,704 runs in 375 ODIs, and 401 runs in 17 T20Is.
Ponting has never batted in Twenty20 cricket in the Caribbean since his one game in 2008 was rain-affected.