Ricky Ponting rules out Ashes return
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has back-tracked on his own suggestion he'd return to Test cricket as an emergency Ashes call-up by ruling himself out of the upcoming series against England.
The 38-year-old, one of the best batsmen of his generation, retired from Test cricket in December with 13,378 runs, including 41 hundreds, in 168 matches at an average of 51.85 to his name.
Ponting is in England, where Australia will hope to regain the Ashes in a series starting in July, to play county cricket for London-based side Surrey.
He told Daily Mail on Wednesday that the possibility of an Ashes recall was "extremely unlikely", but that "you wouldn't say no, would you, if that call came and I would never say never," seemingly leaving the door ever so slightly ajar to a dramatic return to Test cricket.
However, Ponting insisted that he was a "happily retired international cricketer", telling satellite broadcaster Sky Sports, "I did an interview with the Mail yesterday (Tuesday) and probably didn't answer this question exactly the way I would have liked."
"I'm a happily retired international cricketer. There'll be a squad of 17, 18 players and there'll be reserve batsmen on standby, ready to go if anyone in the starting XI loses a bit of form."
"I won't be playing Ashes cricket this time, there's no doubt about that."
"I'm pleased everyone out there thinks that there's still an opportunity, that I might be good enough to play, but I'm happily retired and it's time for the young guys now to make the most of their opportunities," Ponting said.
In his Mail interview, Ponting said he would have loved another crack at arch-rivals England.
However, a poor series at home to South Africa convinced him he was no longer reaching the required standard and, with fellow senior batsman Mike Hussey retiring as well, Australia have some big shoes to fill in their top order.
"This was the series I was playing on for without a doubt," Ponting told the Mail. "I felt Australia would have been a stronger side in this Ashes with both me and Mike Hussey in the side.
"The Ashes are the pinnacle and England is the greatest tour to be on. But the bottom line is I just wasn't good enough any more to be a part of this team. I knew that," he said.
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