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Ponting pulls out of the IPL

Australian captain Ricky Ponting has pulled out of a lucrative two-week stint in the Indian Premier League in May, preferring to stay fresh for the Ashes and the ICC World Twenty20 tournament.

Ponting, who is in South Africa with the Australian team, has written in his column in The Australian newspaper that spending a two-week break with his wife Rianna and baby daughter Emmy was also a key factor.

"I have made the decision I will not play in the Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition this year,'' said Ponting, 34. "My country comes first and there was no way I could give my all for Australia if I used the only two-week break we have to go and play in India.

"I could have played for two weeks in the IPL and in many ways that is not satisfactory, not for the Knight Riders and not for Australian cricket either. I could get there and the finals might be decided before I've even unpacked my bag and it's pretty hard to pick up the pace of things in that short a time, on the field and in the dressing room.''

Ponting has turned his back on an estimated $200,000 for this year's IPL but does intend to turn out for the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2010.

"Our priorities are to be in the best physical and mental shape we can be for the Australian side and it doesn't get any more important than the games we've got coming up,'' he said. "We have something to prove to the South Africans and the world, after that it is the ICC Twenty20 championship and then we have the Ashes and nobody needs to be told how much that matters.

"When Lalit Modi first launched the IPL he assured the traditional cricket community that country would always take priority over the franchises and it is written into the rules of the organisation. My case is a perfect example of that.''

Australia's South African tour finishes on April 17, followed by five one-dayers against Pakistan, possibly in the United Arab Emirates. Some Australian players will head to the IPL for a couple of weeks with their Indian franchise teams after the Pakistan series.

The squad will travel to England on May 31 for the ICC World Twenty20 and the five-Test series against England starts on July 8 in Cardiff.

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