Putting pundit Ponting pleased to play

Australian cricket great Ricky Ponting plays an approach shot. Photo: Getty Images
Australian cricket great Ricky Ponting plays an approach shot. Photo: Getty Images
Ricky Ponting is not unhappy about having an afternoon tee time at the New Zealand Open today.

He hopes by the time he blasts his first shot down the fairway at Millbrook, his countrymen will have the Black Caps on the ropes in the first test at the Basin Reserve.

The former Australian cricket captain, again playing in the pro-am at the Open as one of the tournament’s ambassadors, is looking forward to seeing what unfolds in Wellington.

"I’ll get a chance to watch the first couple of hours," he told the Otago Daily Times.

"I’m interested to see what New Zealand do with their team. I’m pretty sure I know what Australia’s lineup will be, but I will be interested to see which way the Kiwis go with their bowling attack, whether they want to add some pace and variation.

"And I will be interested to see what the wicket plays like. Normally they offer a bit for the bowlers over here.

"I think the Black Caps will play better and be more competitive than they were in the T20s."

Transtasman test cricket has been a disappointingly one-sided fixture over the years.

But that should not really be a surprise, Ponting said.

"Australian cricket teams should have more depth than New Zealand cricket teams. Just the weight of numbers, and our first-class set-up is really good.

"I think New Zealand have done a great job on the international stage for 20 years.

"But any chink in your armour is generally found out at test level, more than the shorter formats. That’s why New Zealand have been up there in World Cups, but test cricket against Australia is a different kettle of fish."

Ponting is still immersed in cricket a decade after he scored the last of his 13,378 test runs.

He heads to the Indian Premier League next month for a coaching gig, follows that with commentary duties at the T20 World Cup, and embarks on a new role as a coach with the Washington Freedom in the American T20 league.

All of which leaves little time for golf.

Ponting has not played a lot this summer but he could not turn down another invitation to play in the Open pro-am.

"It’s my favourite place in the world. I’ve brought my family over here the last six or seven years. We come in winter, we ski, we stay here at the resort, we drive up to Coronet or the Remarkables.

"I just love it. It’s such a beautiful place.

"We get looked after incredibly well at the tournament. To be treated the way that we do, in a place like this — it’s pretty hard to say no to."

Ponting is partnered with Australian professional and good mate Marcus Fraser.

NZ Open

The facts

Where: Millbrook Resort, Arrowtown.

What: Four rounds, starting today.

Format: Up to 156 amateurs and 156 professionals play alongside each other. Professionals compete for NZ Open title, while pairings play best-ball format for the pro-am championship.

Cut: Top 60 plus ties (professionals), top 40 (pro-am).

Sanctioning: PGA Tour of Australasia and Asian Tour, in partnership with Japan Tour.

Purse: $2 million.

Defending champion: Brendan Jones (Australia).