Australia v South Africa, 3rd Test, Perth November 29, 2012

Ponting to retire after Perth Test


As emotional as anyone has ever seen him, Ricky Ponting lost his customary composure when telling team-mates of his decision to retire from international cricket on the eve of the third Test against South Africa in Perth.

For so long the stony-faced embodiment of Australian cricket, Ponting and other members of the squad wept as they came to terms with the fact a Test career that began at the WACA ground in 1995 would end at the same ground 17 years later. "I tried to tell them a lot, but I didn't get much out," Ponting said. "As I said to the boys this morning, they've never seen me emotional, but I was this morning."

If the decision drew a previously unseen well of feeling from within Ponting, its reasons were coldly logical and team-oriented. After failing twice with the bat in Adelaide and thrice in this series, having given himself the best possible lead-in via domestic cricket Ponting concluded that he was no longer good enough to perform at the level he preferred. For so long Ponting's watchword had been consistency - now he spoke ruefully of "consistent failure".

Other considerations included choosing the best circumstances in which to allow his successor in the batting order to get started, a question Ponting had also pondered when handing over the captaincy to Clarke in 2011. As befitted a man whose proudest career achievement is to have played in more Test wins than any other cricketer, Ponting was also keen for the announcement to inspire, not overshadow, Australia's tilt at the world No. 1 ranking in this match.

"It's a decision I thought long and hard about, put in long consideration about the decision, at the end of the day it was about my results and my output in this series so far," Ponting said. "It hasn't been to the level required for batsmen and players in the Australian team. My level of performance hasn't been good enough.

"I want to be a consistent performer, and if you look back over the last 12 or 18 months I haven't been able to perform consistently. I've had moments of really good stuff, and prolonged moments of cricket that's been below my expectations and below a par level for me, so there hasn't been one dismissal or one moment, it's just been in my own eyes reasonably consistent failure. That's why I believe the time is right now to be making this decision."

Following a poor start to the Test series with low scores in Brisbane and Adelaide, Ponting said he was troubled by the "tentative" manner of his dismissals. In Adelaide he was bowled twice in the same match for only the second time in a career that began in 1995.

That double was the catalyst for a typically frank interview with his first Test captain Mark Taylor on Channel Nine on the fourth morning in Adelaide, in which Ponting said he was soon to be discussing his future with the selectors. Discussions about retirement commenced during the Test, though Ponting said he always retained the support of the selectors, and made the call himself.

"I believe so, there's been all sorts of things in the papers the last couple of days and I know certainly with my captain and my coach I couldn't have had any more support from those guys," Ponting said. "They've been the ones who've been most verbal about their support.

"This is not a decision that's been made by the selectors, this a decision that's been made by me, and I'd like to thank all those guys for the support they've given me over the last 12 months. There were probably moments when they thought long and hard about ending my career and I'm glad I've got the opportunity to finish this way and on my terms."

The effect of Ponting's retirement was writ large across the red eyes of the captain, Michael Clarke. In summing up the few days leading up to the announcement, Clarke became so teary that he recalled the welling up of emotion that accompanied Kim Hughes' exit as captain in 1984. While the reasons were entirely different, the feeling was equally strong - Clarke could not answer another question about his team-mate, friend and predecessor as captain.

"I didn't have a feeling it was coming," Clarke said. "Ricky spoke to me after the Adelaide Test match and made his decision I guess over the last few days. The boys are obviously hurting at the moment. He's been an amazing player for a long time. [Deep breath and starts to tear up]… and that'll do me for today. Sorry, I can't answer that."

Ponting will play out the domestic season for Tasmania and the Hobart Hurricanes in the BBL. He does not yet know what will be ahead of him beyond the summer, but gestured towards his wife Rianna and children when queried about what the future held.

"I've got a few months of cricket yet, which I am really looking forward to. I really enjoyed the start of this season playing cricket with Tasmania and back with some of my mates - really I place I haven't spent a lot of time for near on the last 20 years. So I'll enjoy that for what it is, but this is my new team here," Ponting said, pointing to his family.

As for the question of his contribution to cricket, Ponting had a simple and affecting answer. While delivering it he came close to tears again, those his team-mates had shared a few hours before.

"I know I've given cricket my all," Ponting said. "It's been life for 20 years. Not much more I can give."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shanmuga on December 2, 2012, 11:47 GMT

    It's probably an open secret that I was never a great fan of Ricky, but it's only fair to acknowledge a splendid career and my heartfelt wishes for one last hurrah during the 2nd innings in Perth! Unfortunately, one of my lasting memories of him would be him bad-mouthing Srinath for apologising after his (rare!) bouncer hit Ricky! Rare batsman & a tough competitor, nevertheless!

  • sachin on December 2, 2012, 8:44 GMT

    Ponting is just a GOOD player that's overhyped as "great", just compare his record before & after Aus golden-era, he avg about 40, which is his true "level"! Most of Punter's runs came during a time when bowling standards around the world were at their lowest (except Aus bowlers, of course) & pitches at their flattest & Aussie-Juggernaut was on the roll & this was the time when Punter racked up most of his runs - against sub-standard attacks, on flatter pitches & Aus team being so powerful, the opposition bowlers were never able to attack! His tendency to put his foot way across & falling over makes him prime LBW-candidate at the time being a prime-candidate to chase wider balls to get caught behind, he'd be worse than he seems against better attacks! And avg 25 in India shows his inability to adapt against quality spin on slow turning pitches. All in all he's just a GOOD Aus player but way too overhyped as "great", just like Lillee - who didn't even succeed in sub-continent & WI.

  • R on December 2, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    a very ordinary capt who was lucky enough to have had two extraordinary players at his disposal... when even only one of those 2 was not available he was left bereft & wanting... and without the Ashes... (again)

  • Mahib on December 1, 2012, 21:33 GMT

    I will rate Punter over Sachin without any doubt

  • Geoffrey on December 1, 2012, 14:55 GMT

    @Al_Bundy1- yeah, how great a captain was Ponting when he lost 3 ashes series? I'll never forget hearing Keith Stackpole on ABC when he saw Ponting's field placings "I've seen Under 11 captains set a better field than that". Ponting was the worst Australian captain I've ever seen, both in attitude to the game in general and in aptitude for the job.

  • Al on December 1, 2012, 13:08 GMT

    Ricky Ponting was the greatest generation of his generation. Tendulkar and Lara were great but they could never match Ponting's other achievements - superb fielding, great captainship, and above all his excellent win ratio. In fact, Tendulkar was the worst captain of all time. To be considered a Legend - you have to show leadership skills, like Imran Khan. By refusing to retire while playing with an average of 15 - Tendulkar is humiliating himself and his team.

  • Imran on December 1, 2012, 11:51 GMT

    nice comments posted by Alex_LX, even some comments that now Cricket Austrlia will pull out Ricky, but look at his performance for Australia, I am clearly stated that he has a marvelous career shows as Captain, Player, Batsman. People realize that ups & downs came in every person life but if I am that kind of career which shows lots of potential as the fine player in the cricket history. I am from Pakistan & a very small cricket lover which enjoys batting when batted, his aggression, style, pull shots, hooks, looks marvelous.

    Now it's time to wish him GOODLUCK for the rest of his life & possibly he will join Cricket channel as the commentator like few of the past cricketers joins there.

    Really we miss an outclass batsman who perform well for the past 16 years.

  • j on December 1, 2012, 11:11 GMT

    @ ScottStevo, the facts speak for themselves I'm afraid. There's no good crying over it. Having England dominate Australia for what is now so many years must really hurt, as must all those innings defeats you suffered in your own back yard. Back to the drawing board for Australia. Within a decade you may catch up with England's fitness, skill, and depth in squad, but not soon. Watching Ponting mimic Vaughan's un-orthodox field placings because he didn't have any ideas of his own will stay long in the memory. England just have more intelligent cricket captains - try to get over it.

  • Anupam on December 1, 2012, 8:24 GMT

    HE set a foot mark for CLARKE and the future captains of Oz. very emotional, the King of Legends RICKY THOMAS PONTING.THE IDOL.

  • Geoffrey on December 1, 2012, 4:11 GMT

    @ScottStevo- how come you didn't mention the last ashes? Check it out on cricinfo if you can't remember it- I would not hesitate to call that "domination"..

  • No featured comments at the moment.