Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has been appointed head coach of Washington Freedom ahead of the second season of Major League Cricket in the United States, the MLC team said.
Ponting has signed a two-year deal and takes over from compatriot Greg Shipperd, who led Washington to a third-place finish in the inaugural season of the six-team T20 tournament.
MLC is bidding to carve out a place for cricket in a lucrative sports market currently dominated by baseball, basketball and American football.
“Cricket is really on the rise in the US and I’m looking forward to being involved in Major League Cricket,” Ponting, who also coaches Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League, said in a team statement on Tuesday.
“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.”
Ponting’s involvement enhances the league’s appeal, said Washington owner Sanjay Govil.
“His understanding of our vision – to enhance the sport’s profile in the US and to develop local talent – resonates with our mission,” he added.
“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.”
Four IPL franchises either own teams in MLC or have invested in the league. The Kolkata Knight Riders own the Los Angeles franchise, while Mumbai Indians have bought MI New York.
Chennai Super Kings partnered with a local investor to acquire the Texas franchise, while Delhi Capitals co-owner GMR Group has bought a stake in Seattle Orcas.
The United States is co-hosting this year’s T20 World Cup along with West Indies.