Ponting poised to re-enter fray

Australia captain Ricky Ponting rejoins the tour of England today keen to salvage it with a one-day series victory.

Ponting, 34, announced his retirement from international Twenty20 cricket before boarding the plane back to the UK yesterday and is now intent on returning to winning ways following Ashes defeat.

He has spent the past fortnight recuperating with his family ahead of the final four matches of the NatWest Series and will not play in the third encounter in Southampton tomorrow.

Australia have opened up a 2-0 lead in his absence and this latest rest, allied to a reduction in appearances for Australia in future, is designed to extend his time at the top.

"The last 10 or 12 days for me has been about reflection looking back to the Ashes and looking forward to the rest of my playing career," Ponting said. "I've thought long and hard and spoken to a lot of people about me going forward.

"The decision that I've made is all to do with my longevity in the game. As I said when I came back from England, I'm really passionate and committed to being the best player that I can be for Australia for as long as possible.

"Over the last couple of years of found it increasing difficult to play all three forms of the game at the level that I want to play them.

"Looking at international Twenty20 cricket, I've looked at the programme for the next couple of years. "In the next 12 months alone, I've looked at having probably an extra four weeks off, which will give me an opportunity to get away and just make sure that I'm ready to go for both the Test matches and the one-day cricket we in that period."

Michael Clarke, who has three wins out of three in limited-overs matches in Ponting's absence, including one against Scotland, is expected to be ratified as permanent Twenty20 captain of Australia later this year.

Although Ponting has not been missed in terms of results, his quality with the bat will enhance Australia's cause.

"I'm looking forward to getting over to England and joining the guys," he said before boarding the plane to the UK. "We've got off to a great start in the one-day series. "I'm looking forward to being a big part in the last four games over there and hopefully bringing something away from what has otherwise been a reasonably disappointing tour of England."

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