JONO Dean has still got the Ricky Ponting Ridgeback 2000 bat he wielded as a talented youngster in the junior grades lying around somewhere.
The bat, a gift from his father after Dean notched his first century in the under-12s, long took pride of place in the then-teenager’s kitbag.
But never at the time, could Dean have imagined he would one day be lining up alongside the same man whose name graced the spine of his prized junior willow.
Later this month however, Dean will get that chance after being named alongside the former Australian captain in this year’s Prime Minister’s outfit to take on the West Indies in the first game under lights at Manuka Oval.
It’s something of a dream come true for the 28-year-old. Dean was 12th man for the invitational outfit in 2007 but this time around will have the opportunity to take to the field alongside one of the game’s all-time greats.
“Ponting’s a guy I’ve looked up to for years,” Dean said. “He’s a hero of mine so I’m really looking forward to getting out there and seeing how he goes about his business.
“Playing among these sorts of cricketers in front of a big crowd is going to be a completely different experience for me. I might have to ask Punter a few questions about how he handles things in those situations and try to take that advice on board.”
Dean’s selection is just reward after the top order batsman enjoyed a brilliant year with the ACT Comets and Queanbeyan in 2012.
The Comets skipper has also been on the verge of securing a state-based Big Bash League contract for the past two seasons and is currently on the books with the Melbourne Renegades.
A strong performance for the PM’s XI against a quality West Indian bowling attack would ensure Dean’s name remains in the minds of state selectors.
“It’s going to be a pretty good achievement for me it itself just being out there but I don’t just want to settle for that obviously, I’d be a lot happier to do well,” Dean said.
“It’s the perfect opportunity for me to make my case so I’ll be working really hard over the next few weeks to try and prepare as best I can and hopefully I can make the most of the opportunity.
Dean will be one of two players with a Queanbeyan who will take the field for the PM’s XI with former Bluebags junior Brad Haddin also receiving a call-up for the clash.
Prime Minister’s XI side: Ricky Ponting (captain), Brad Haddin (vice-captain), Fawad Ahmed, Jono Dean, Alex Doolan, James Faulkner, Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Kane Richardson, Gurinder Sandhu, Ashton Turner and Nick Winter (12th man).