PERTH, Dec 3: Ricky Ponting put on a brave face after he was denied a fairytale ending when dismissed for eight in his final Test innings on Monday, bringing the curtain down on a glittering 17-year career.
Ponting, the second-highest Test run-scorer of all-time behind India’s Sachin Tendulkar, announced his impending retirement before the showdown with South Africa in Perth after a record-equalling 168 Tests for Australia.
The 37-year-old, who said he was more nervous for his final Test than at any other stage of his career, was looking to go out with a big knock.
But he lasted just 23 balls in Australia’s second innings as the home side slumped to a 309-run defeat and South Africa won the series 1-0 to retain their No 1 Test ranking.
“I felt there was one last big push for me, and the day and game was set up for it, but it didn’t last long enough,” Ponting said.
“Even out of today, only being out there for 20-odd balls or whatever it was, was still pretty special. It just would have been nice to have a few more next to my name.”
Ponting said the failure continued a frustrating recent inability to deliver in big moments that led him to retire.
“I have put a lot of pressure on myself to perform, it has always been about big games and big series for me,” he said.
“I haven’t been able to deal with [pressure] as well of late as I would like to.
“Normally when those big moments come around I have been able to find something, and I haven’t been able to do that for a while now.”
He walked out to a standing ovation from a crowd of around 7,000 at the WACA Ground, including his wife Rianna, and parents Graeme and Lorraine.
The South Africans also paid their respects, forming an unusual and poignant guard of honour when he strode to the crease, with the Tasmanian shaking hands with Proteas skipper Graeme Smith.
Later, International Cricket Council chief executive David Richardson, paid his own tribute.
Richardson, who was in the South Africa side against whom Ponting made his international debut in 1995, said: “His contribution to the international game has been immense and quite rightly he will be remembered as one of the true legends of the sport.“He was the most successful captain in the history of Test cricket and was the first player to feature in 108 Test match victories. He also steered Australia to two ICC Cricket World Cup triumphs — as well as playing in a third — during which time they set a record of 34 consecutive victories — yet another record.
He added: “Ricky was a team man but along the way collected many personal accolades and is the only player to have won the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for Cricketer of the Year at the LG ICC Awards for two years in succession [2006 and 2007].
Ponting was out just minutes before lunch, getting a thick edge to Jacques Kallis when he attempted to force spinner Robin Peterson off the back foot.
He loitered at the crease momentarily after his dismissal, seemingly unable to comprehend what had happened, before trudging off as the electronic scoreboard read ‘Thanks Ricky’.
Ponting finishes his career with 13,378 Test runs at an average of 51.85, including 41 centuries, having also played 375 One-day Internationals in which amassed 13,704 runs at an average of 42.03 and scored 30 hundreds.
He shares the record for Test appearances for his country with his predecessor as Australian captain, Steve Waugh. —AFP