Ponting pulls out of IPL

Australia captain Ricky Ponting has announced he will not not play in the Indian Premier League this year because of his international commitments.

The 34-year-old had been signed up for a short spell with the Kolkata Knight Riders, but will now miss the competition in order to concentrate on the upcoming Ashes series.

"I have made the decision I will not play in the Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition this year," Ponting wrote in his column in The Australian newspaper..

"My country comes first and there was no way I could give my all for Australia if I used the only two-week break we have to go and play in India.

Ponting, who is currently touring South Africa with the national team, was one of a number of Australians set to turn out in the IPL, which commences on April 10.

He had been signed up to play for Kolkata during a two-week window in May between the conclusion of Australia's five-match one-day series against Pakistan and the start of the World Twenty20.

The Ashes series against England will then get under way soon after the World Twenty20, and Ponting admits the IPL would have been too much of an interruption in a busy international programme.

"I could have played for two weeks in the IPL and in many ways that is not satisfactory, not for the Knight Riders and not for Australian cricket either," he continued.

"Our priorities are to be in the best physical and mental shape we can be for the Australian side and it doesn't get any more important than the games we've got coming up.

"We have something to prove to the South Africans and the world, after that it is the ICC Twenty20 championship and then we have the Ashes and nobody needs to be told how much that matters."

Ponting added he is planning to play for Kolkata in the 2010 tournament.