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Ponting rules out Ashes comeback

Ricky Ponting has played down his own suggestion that he would be available as a replacement player for Australia's Ashes squad this summer.

The former captain indicated in his column in this morning's Daily Mail that he would “never say never” if asked to help out the national team against England, though he added that a call-up was “extremely unlikely”.

Speaking to Sky Sports later, though, he ruled out playing a part in the series.

“I did an interview with the Mail yesterday and probably didn't answer this question exactly the way I would have liked,” said Ponting, who is in England playing county cricket for Surrey.

“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 anticipates Australia’s bowlers, in particular, to prosper on English soil.

“I think the bowling group we've got at the moment will bowl well in these conditions,” he added.

“I think as far as groups of fast bowlers I've seen probably in the last 10 years, this current group would probably be as exciting as any.

“I'm really looking forward to the contest. I think it will be a fantastic series.”

Prior to the Ashes, Ponting is determined to make his mark at the Kia Oval, especially with Graeme Smith having been forced to cut short his stay with Surrey due to injury.

“I have a pretty fair idea of what Graeme was trying to implement while he was here,” Ponting explained.

“Apparently, he had a really good impact on the team on his arrival - and probably since he left, things haven't quite worked out the way everyone would have liked.

“Talking to the guys, they were pretty upbeat and pretty confident they can turn things around.”

The 38-year-old is confident he still has what it takes to shine on the county circuit following an impressive domestic campaign with Tasmania.

“I wasn't playing well enough at international level to contribute to Australia winning games. But I did when I went back to first-class level,” he added.

“My game for Tasmania was very, very good - and I felt I was able to play innings and do things in games which helped my team win games."

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