US Major League Cricket has landed the most prominent signing of its short history with Ricky Ponting joining the Washington Freedom as coach.
The superstar former Australian captain has signed a two-year deal and will succeed Greg Shipperd for the second season of the Twenty20 competition.
Shipperd has stepped down to focus on his duties as coach of the Sydney Sixers and the men’s state teams at Cricket NSW – the Freedom’s high-performance partner.
Currently coach of the Indian Premier League’s Delhi Capitals and a popular media pundit, Ponting confirmed last week he was in talks to join Washington but needed to work through logistics.
He was announced as head coach on Wednesday morning.
“Cricket is really on the rise in the US,” Ponting said.
“I’ve been impressed by everyone involved at Washington Freedom and, while it’s a bit surreal to be replacing my mate Greg Shipperd, there’s probably no one better to set up a successful franchise.
“I’m ready to build on his work as we look towards the coming season.”
Washington Freedom owner Sanjay Govil said Ponting’s appointment would help build the league.
“As we look to the future, it’s clear that our ambitions require a figure of unmatched stature and expertise,” he said.
“Ricky’s legendary status, characterized by his leadership, winning mindset, and commitment to nurturing talent, aligns perfectly with our goals.
“His understanding of our vision—to enhance the sport’s profile in the US and to develop local talent—resonates with our mission.
“Ricky’s appointment is a pivotal step in our quest to not just participate in the MLC but to redefine it, offering unparalleled cricket experiences to our fans and creating a legacy of excellence in American cricket.”
Ponting previously coached the IPL’s Mumbai Indians and has worked in the Australian set-up, most recently as an assistant to former head coach Justin Langer.
He takes the reins at a Washington side that finished third on the ladder in the inaugural MLC last year but who were eliminated by eventual champions MI New York in the playoffs.
Adam Zampa, Moises Henriques and Aaron Finch were among the Australians who played in the first season, where four of six sides received significant financial backing from IPL franchises.
The second MLC begins only days after the T20 World Cup final, which is being held across the US and Caribbean in June.