Ricky Ponting is lamenting the loss of a key ‘batsman’ ahead of his charity cricket game in January.
Ponting will lead a North Melbourne Kangaroos team against fellow Australian Football League (AFL) team the Hawthorn Hawks, captained by Damien Fleming, in a charity match in Launceston.
The match on January 27 will be staged at the University of Tasmania Stadium and will be live streamed exclusively on cricket.com.au and the CA Live app.
All proceeds from the game will be distributed by the Ponting Foundation to its cancer and health-related projects, with a crowd in excess of 15,000 expected.
But Ponting, an ardent North Melbourne fan, has been rocked by the departure of Drew Petrie, who was snapped up by rival AFL team West Coast in Monday’s Rookie Draft and will now be unavailable to take part.
The big-hitting Petrie was expected to play a big role for Ponting’s side after clubbing an unbeaten 38, including four sixes and three fours, in the Tasmanian’s Tribute game in Launceston two years ago.
“To tell you the truth I’m feeling pretty flat today,” Ponting said of the news.
“Drewy was going to be our main go-to batter and that leaves a huge hole in our planning. But seriously I am rapt for Drewy that he has the opportunity to play on with the Eagles.
“He’s an absolute legend of our club but it will be tough to see him line up in an Eagles jumper.”
Petrie represented the Kangaroos at the official launch of Ponting’s T20 charity game.
“It was one of the very first things I thought of when I got the call to say I was going to be an Eagle,” Petrie said.
“I was so looking forward to playing alongside Punter and the rest of the Roos boys and giving the Hawks the thumping they deserve.
“I will be keeping an eye on the game from other side of the country though. Am sure it will be a fantastic night of fun and entertainment.”
Hawthorn has named their 18-man squad for the game, with four-time AFL premiership players Luke Hodge, Jarryd Roughead and Grant Birchall set to take to the field alongside Brownlow medallist Shane Crawford.
"We’ve assembled a pretty red-hot squad of players," Fleming said of the Hawthorn squad of 18 that also includes veteran Victoria allrounder John Hastings.
"There’s a great mix of bowling techniques, batting capability and fielding prowess in this squad and I think we are going to have no problems knocking over the Roos."
North Melbourne is scheduled to announce their squad on Saturday, and Ponting is working feverishly to find a replacement for Petrie.
“I am on the phones looking for a gun replacement for Drew. I have someone in mind and if we get him over the line, Flem and the Hawthorn boys will be on the back foot straight away,” Ponting said.
Tickets for the match can be purchased from www.ticketmaster.com.au or direct from Ticketmaster outlets, while hospitality packages are available from www.pontingfoundation.com.au/rickys-biggest-game-cricket.
Damien Fleming (Captain), Luke Hodge (Vice Captain), Jarryd Roughead (Vice Captain), Grant Birchall, Luke Breust, Cameron Bruce, Alastair Clarkson, Shane Crawford, James Frawley, Josh Gibson, Jack Gunston, Blake Hardwick, Daniel Harford, John Hastings, Brett Ratten, Isaac Smith, Brendan Whitecross, Dallas Willsmore
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