Ponting to call it quits
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has announced he will retire from international cricket at the end of the third Test with South Africa, which begins tomorrow.
The 37-year-old, who is the second-highest Test run-scorer after Sachin Tendulkar, confirmed his decision in Perth on the eve of the game, drawing to an end a 17-year career at the highest level.
Despite a strong start to the Sheffield Shield season, Ponting's future has been the subject of much speculation following a dismal two Tests versus the Proteas at Brisbane and Adelaide which yielded just 20 runs.
On the fourth morning of the Adelaide Oval Test he admitted that he was unsure about his place in the team, conceding that there was a real chance he would be dropped for Perth.
Coach Mickey Arthur, captain Michael Clarke and senior batsman Mike Hussey all threw their support behind Ponting following the second Test, insisting a return to form was not far away.
But with a three-Test series to come against Sri Lanka later this Australian summer ahead of four Tests in India and back-to-back Ashes rubbers away and then at home, Ponting has decided to fall on his sword.
"My output as an Australian batsman wasn't good enough," he told a press conference at the WACA.
"I haven't been performing consistently over the last 12-18 months. I believe now is the right time to make this decision. This is a decision not made by the selectors, it was made by me."
The Perth contest will be Ponting's 168th, meaning he will finish his career level with former captain Steve Waugh as Australia's most-capped Test player.
The Tasmanian, who will turn 38 next month, has scored an Australian-record 13,366 Test runs at an average of 52.21, including 41 centuries with a highest score of 257.
Ponting's retirement comes nine months since he quit the one-day international arena and just under two years after he relinquished the Test captaincy following the 2010-11 Ashes loss. His last Twenty20 international was in June 2009.
Ponting’s 41 Test wins as captain was another Australian landmark, although his leadership will also be remembered for a record three Ashes defeats, the first of them in 2005 coming after his country had held the famous urn for 16 years.
Having made his debut in 1995-96 versus Sri Lanka, scoring 96 before being given out lbw to a delivery that appeared set to bounce over the top of the stumps, Ponting became Australia's most prolific batsman. His international career will now wind down at the same ground where it began.
Ponting was named ICC Player of the Year twice, in 2006 and ‘07, the international body's Test player of the year three times - in 2003, '04 and '06 - won the Allan Border Medal in 2004, '06, '07 and '09 and as well as being the Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2006 was also CricInfo's Player of the Decade for 2000-09.
He will see out the remainder of the campaign with Tasmania and confirmed he will still play in the Big Bash with Hobart Hurricanes.
“A few hours ago I let the team know my decision to make this Test my last. It’s a decision I thought long and hard about but at the end of the day it’s based on my results and my output in this series so far,” said Ponting, whose country will return to the top of the Test rankings with victory at Perth.
“It hasn’t been what I expect of myself or to the level I feel is required for batsmen in the Australia team.
“I continued to play as long as I felt I could contribute to wins but over the last couple of weeks I felt my level of performance has not been good enough to do that.
“My passion and love of the game has not changed one bit over the last 12-18 months, where things haven’t been as I’d have liked or pictured them.
“But as far as I’m concerned my immediate focus - and the focus of the team - is on what we’re presented with tomorrow. It’s an unbelievable opportunity in what is almost a grand final situation.
“I’ve prepared this week and I’m hungrier than ever. I want this win more than any game I’ve ever played in.
“If that happens to lead to a win for the team and we get back to the top of the tree and number one in the world then there’s no better time to finish.”