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Ricky Ponting joins Big Bash League’s Hobart Hurricanes as head of strategy

Australian cricket legend Ricky Ponting is returning to the Hobart Hurricanes in an off-field role and has another Tasmanian in his sights.

Former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting has signed a three-year deal to become head of strategy at the Hobart Hurricanes and believes Tim Paine would fit “perfectly” with his vision for the BBL franchise.

Ponting has already started searching for Adam Griffith’s replacement as head coach, and while former Australian coach Justin Langer is at the top of his mind, Ponting says there are “pages and pages” of candidates he’ll consider for the position.

Ponting could have his work cut out for him luring Paine to the Hurricanes; the ex-Test captain has been on mental health leave from professional cricket since November when it came to light he had sent sexually explicit messages to a former Cricket Tasmania employee.

While Ponting did not explicitly say he was considering Paine for the head coaching role, he said he would “never say never” when it came to offering him a position somewhere at the franchise.

“What I’d like to achieve with the Hurricanes would be to bring as many great Tasmanian people back around the franchise as possible,” said Ponting, who played for the Hurricanes in BBL|01 and BBL|02.

“I think Tim Paine fits perfectly into that mould. So if he’s ever ready to walk back with the purple shirt on, I’m sure lots of Tasmanians would like to see him involved.”

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The successful applicant for the head coaching job will be someone with whom Ponting has a good relationship, given he’ll work with the coach on match and list strategy for BBL|12 and beyond.

Ponting and Langer are close, having played Test cricket alongside one another in Australia’s “golden era” of the 2000s.

Ponting also confirmed Langer had told him of his desire to coach again but said he was unsure whether his friend would need more time away from the limelight; Langer only left his post as Australian cricket coach in February.

“(Langer) is probably the one that’s I’ve spoken to the most about it so far,” Ponting said.

“We’ve been having a bit of dialogue through the last six or seven months, to be honest. Nothing’s finalized with Justin yet.

“He definitely wants to coach again. I think he’s got a bit more thinking to do as far as a commitment is concerned through the summer. Every chat I’ve had with him so far, he wants to coach again.”

Ponting said he needed a coach who could inspire the dressing room on the Hurricanes’ quest for their maiden BBL title.

“I know JL would do a great job if he was the one,” Ponting said.

“I’ve got pages and pages of names of guys that I think would do a great job. I haven’t necessarily put them in order yet and I’ll tick them off over the next few weeks.”

In terms of the Hurricanes’ playing list, Ponting said at the top of his wishlist were a “high-quality overseas spinner” and “someone who can bat in the top order and potentially bowl a couple of overs of spin”.

He said unwanted BBL superstar Chris Lynn hadn’t figured in his plans just yet; the Brisbane Heat informed Lynn in May that his services wouldn’t be required in BBL|12.

“If I look at (Hurricanes batters) Wade, McDermott, Short, David, I’m not sure that I’m picking Chris Lynn ahead of many of those guys,” Ponting said.

Since retiring from playing, Ponting has proven himself an adept coach and analyst of the shortest format.

He guided the Delhi Capitals to their first IPL final in 2020 and then to the game before the final in the tournament that followed.

Ponting briefly served as an assistant to Australian coach Darren Lehmann in 2018 but has previously cited “time commitments” for his inability to take on a bigger role with the national side.

Ponting is also regarded as one of the most insightful members of Channel 7’s BBL commentary team, which he said could prove an asset for the Hurricanes.

“Having commented so much on the BBL, my knowledge of the oppositions’ players is probably going to be as good as anyone’s,” Ponting said.

“I’m looking forward to getting to work and securing the best coach for what we need, then building a plan for the team to execute next season.

“With a few tweaks in a couple of key areas, I believe the Hurricanes have the foundations to win our first BBL trophy.”

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