Australia v South Africa, 3rd Test, Perth

Among weights machines and leaky pipes

The WACA gym setting for Ricky Ponting's retirement announcement was far from pretty but somehow fitting

Brydon Coverdale

November 29, 2012

Comments: 37 | Text size: A | A

Ricky Ponting arrives for the press conference with his wife and daughter, Perth, November 29, 2012
Ricky Ponting walks into the WACA gym for his retirement announcement with his family © AFP

Windowless and feeling like a basement, the WACA gym is not the most salubrious room in Australian cricket.

It is tucked away on the ground floor of the Lillee-Marsh Stand, and during Test matches becomes a makeshift press conference venue, weights and machines pushed to the sides and chairs lined up in the middle of the room. During a press conference last year, a cameraman had to shift his lighting equipment to avoid damage from a leaky pipe that runs along the ceiling carrying goodness knows what.

In these surrounds Ricky Ponting announced his decision to retire from Test cricket. Somehow, it felt appropriate. Ponting has spent more than two decades in rooms like this, working on his fitness, preparing for battle. Ponting's career has not been about looking pretty, although his pulls and straight drives are among the finest sights in cricket. It has been about getting down to business, wherever, however required. From Harare to Peshawar, from Georgetown to Guwahati. From Perth in 1995 to Perth in 2012.

So he got down to business here as well. Ponting walked into the gym holding the hand of his young daughter Emmy, followed by wife Rianna holding their younger daughter Matisse. His family filed off and sat down at the front of a packed room. Ponting's team-mates were already present, standing at the back of the room behind the bank of television cameras, waiting to hear Ponting tell the world what he had told them before training.

For nearly an hour before Ponting arrived, murmurs had been spreading. Ostensibly, the collection of journalists had gathered for captain Michael Clarke's pre-match press conference. But one by one, the reporters started to make or take calls, sidling out of the room to confirm the rumour that was rapidly spreading. Twitter began to rumble as the news emerged. It was known that Ponting had been seriously considering his future after the Adelaide Test, but not that he had made a decision.

After a matter-of-fact confirmation that the Perth Test would be his last, Ponting asked that he not be pressed to reflect on his career, his highs and lows, the great players he had played with and against. It was typical of Ponting that he wanted the focus to remain on the upcoming Test, inasmuch as that was possible. A battle for the No.1 Test ranking. A match that Ponting said he wanted to win more than any other game he has ever played.

Ponting had been emotional when he told his team-mates of his decision earlier in the day; naturally, so were they. But during his public announcement, there were no tears. All his face betrayed was a disappointment that in his own mind he was no longer good enough to play Test cricket. "I know I've given cricket my all," he said with a look of resignation. "It's been life for 20 years. Not much more I can give."

The display of emotion was left to Clarke, who had the task of facing the press after Ponting had left the room with his family - or "my new team", as he had described his wife and daughters - to a standing ovation from all who were present. Clarke was asked how the team had responded when Ponting had told them of his decision before training.

"The boys are obviously hurting at the moment," Clarke said. "He's been an amazing player for a long time."

That was as much as Clarke could get out. His chin started to wobble, he fell silent and looked down at the desk in front of him. Ponting had been the one constant in the Australian team since Clarke debuted in 2004. Though they took different approaches to captaincy, there was no question Ponting had been a significant mentor to Clarke over the years. And now he was leaving. It was like a death in the family.

The next question asked of Clarke related to Nathan Lyon's chances of playing the Test. The focus had returned to the match at hand. Just as Ponting wanted.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by chauhan_india on (December 2, 2012, 7:35 GMT)

Ponting a very hard competitor both as player and as a captain.He will be surely missed all over the cricketing world.Wish him good luck for future.

Posted by balajik1968 on (December 2, 2012, 6:42 GMT)

Great cricketer. For all his bad results towards the end, he was not a bad captain. Anyone who loses Martyn, McGrath, Langer, Warne in one season, Gilchrist in the next and Hayden after that would have had a really tough time. Oh I forgot Gillespie. These guys were around so long, their competition also faded away in the domestic arena. He did a good job with the resources at his disposal. Goodbye Punter, have a good life after active cricket

Posted by vik56in on (December 1, 2012, 11:10 GMT)

As a captain he was not leader of men in the mould of either Steve Waugh or Mark Taylor,but was pugnacious enough to get his team victories going.Though he was lucky to have a great team in the first half of his captaincy career.As a person Ricky is not much of a charmer,but his horizontal bat shots were charming enough!

Posted by rayfanatics on (November 30, 2012, 16:45 GMT)

Never liked him as a person since he was never gracious. Playing hard doesn't mean playing haughty. However as a batsman for tough situations, he is right up there with the Richards, Tendulkars and Laras. And as a cricket lover, I haven't seen a better ODI innings than his brutal century in the 2003 WC final. Farewell Punter.

On a side note, why does Ponting's retirement have to be a cue for Tendulkar's? These guys know a thing or two more than us about batting, so just let them take their call.

Posted by   on (November 30, 2012, 7:08 GMT)

As an Englishman I like my Oz cricketers tough & talented (it makes it so much better when we beat them!). Ricky P was up at the top of the pile & I'll miss him big time. I just hope that cricket (whether at Australian level or world level) finds a suitable role for the great man.

Posted by   on (November 30, 2012, 0:16 GMT)

One of the Best Players ever to don the Baggy Green. Immensely tough yet graceful. A collossal No 3 to rival the great Viv Richards over the past 25 years f Test Cricket. Australia without the Punter will not seem quite the sme for a fair while into the future. Clarke's resurgence as a batsman wil soften the blow but whether he gets close to emulatig Ponting;s carear s yet to be seen. Goodbye and ood luck to the best that Tasmania has produced. He was always progressive in his attacing intent even f batting in a crisis. Never less than entertaining and a great fielder to boot

Posted by   on (November 30, 2012, 0:06 GMT)

The three great modern batsmen. I think its kind of fitting that as Ponting leaves the game that Lara (the artist) will have the highest test innings record; Tendulkar (the pure run machine) will have the highest test career runs record; and Ponting who was always about getting the job done above all else, the most career test victories.

Posted by kingofthebush on (November 30, 2012, 0:05 GMT)

Ricky.. Congratulations on completing a "benchmark setting" career.. I grew up in Sth. Australia through the Richie B, Norm O'Neill , Bill Lawry, Bobby Simpson, & later Ian Chappell era's. Then my career with CSR ( Readymix) took me to Sth Africa then the last 30 years to America ( where "cricket" is a "foreign language") ( but Website can watch live! ).. and THANKS to YOU the desire to watch remained strong & watching you & your skills on the field & exemplary Leadership of the Aussie Teams during YOUR era has kept me a "Aussie Faithful" of the sport of Cricket. In the USA where ALL the sports are supported enormously with $$Billions in play for all ( Owners, Coaches, Players etc etc ) is far too often marrred by "Scams, Drugs, Cheating & all - about ME attitudes" make it all the more enjoyable to watch the Aussie Teams play the last 17 Years of Test cricket under your watch Ricky Ponting.. thank you, God Bless & enjoy the next phase in your life Geoff Harris California

Posted by mus_tard on (November 29, 2012, 20:54 GMT)

umm...cloudmess, i think you are forgetting chanderpaul. After him, kallis, and tendulkar retire, the next generation of legends will have to emerge

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 20:21 GMT)

Great Cricket legend after Sir Bradman. One of the best cricketer of our era, we enjoyed all his inngings as an cricket fan both tests and onedayers.

Best of luck Punter .

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 19:31 GMT)

Cloudmess...Is Kallis not the last test player of your generation? Also good luck in your future Punter, great respect for you as both a man and a player!

Posted by cloudmess on (November 29, 2012, 14:06 GMT)

Ponting was the kind of cricketer you hated playing against but would have loved to have in your team. And once Sachin goes, that will be the last test player of my generation.

Posted by Ozzy505 on (November 29, 2012, 13:21 GMT)

@Dhirshan Gobind - Ponting as captain versus Smith: P-12 W-8 D-1 L-3! That includes a whitewash in SA in 2006. Get your facts straight before you comment. Ricky Ponting was truly 1 of the best batsman in his era & has significantly contributed to over a 100 test match victories during his career & I hope he can add 1 more to leave his team in the position that they've been in for most of his career!

Posted by muski on (November 29, 2012, 13:09 GMT)

As an Indian, he was the player we loved to hate due to his arrogant behaviour. As a big match player he perhaps had no equals. The bigger the arena, you could bet that the Punter will deliver and deliver he did. As the Punter fades into the horizon, shades of his arrogance and ability are seen in our young Kohli. Hopes he turns out the numbers as the great Australian did.

Posted by hycIass on (November 29, 2012, 13:00 GMT)

@Imz25 well said mate, Khawaja summed up what Ricky means to his team mates and the younger players, we will miss him. For the Sri Lankan series I would get Khawaja in, he is the long term 3 for us.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 12:45 GMT)

Always derided by the English, due to a large extent because of his reaction to THAT run out by Gary Pratt in 2005. A true great though and let's hope for a big final test for him.

Posted by ravis123 on (November 29, 2012, 12:20 GMT)

A fierce competitor, a great athelete (he will put to shmae some of the younger Indians on the field even now), a graceful shot maker and a thinjing captain, his retirement will leave a big void in the Aussie dressing room.. The timing of the call has got a lot to do with the honesty in his approach, reiterating the logic that he does not want younger and more talented players to be denied entry into the great Aussie team. Hats off to this man.. Others in the criceting world need to take a cue, from him. Lets hope that he signs off with a ton or more...!

Posted by RaviNarla on (November 29, 2012, 12:16 GMT)

Great Player. Certainly one of the all time greats to have played the game. Hats off to him. Wish him GOOD LUCK for his future endeavors

Posted by ultimatewarrior on (November 29, 2012, 11:52 GMT)

Hope Ponting will now join the IPL League and provide due entertainment because of his earlier retirement from T20 Internationals, altogether he is a very good T20 cricketer.......

Posted by valvolux on (November 29, 2012, 11:06 GMT)

Simply put, the most successful cricketer of all time. Won everything except the least important trophy, the t20 world cup. Shame he couldn't find an innings this series, would've loved to see him bow out after a successful ashes. We have no one to replace him and having new blood scoring similarly poor scores does no replace what he would bring to the change rooms. He was once a guy who only needed a look at a single stump to run you out from anywhere and that seems like such a long time ago. We will miss you mate - you had so many knockers throughout your career but you always copped it on the chin and put egg on theirs. Fingers crossed you go out on a bang. Champion.

Posted by sharidas on (November 29, 2012, 10:37 GMT)

Life goes on.....a great player leaves the game. Now who will replace him ? I feel, it should be Usman Khwaja. Rob Quiney must surely be disappointed the way in which he has fared, but I feel he should be given a last chance and he will come right.

Posted by ThumpingWin on (November 29, 2012, 9:51 GMT)

I m sad.. I wish i could see u play more crciket.. You were the Best Captain and Best Batsman i have ever seen the man who always put his team before him.. Now just sit back and enjoy life u have done enuf for the country.. LOVE U BRO...

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 9:28 GMT)

History says only about the end results...For any sportsperson, winning is more important than any individual achievements. For me, Ponting is top most modern era cricketer. I never forgot his innings on 2003 World cup finals. All the best Ponting.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 9:21 GMT)

Thanks Punter!!! Thanks a lot for all the wonderul moments you have provided. We will miss u a lot!!! Gracious way to go. Go with a bang, Help Australia to win the match and become No: 1 in the world again. Also hope you score a century.

The day of retirement will be a very sad day, In fact i am writing from Bangalore and i have already applied for a days leave on your retirement day to ensure that i dont miss out your retirement day on television.

Thanks Mate Once again. Wish you and Your new team (family) a wonderful future ahed!!! Cheers!!!

Posted by SillyMidPavilion on (November 29, 2012, 9:01 GMT)

1. Series Decider - Winner gets No.1 ranking 2. Retirement of one of the game's true greats 3. South African and Australian fast bowlers on the WACA pitch This is gonna be one to remember. We salute you, Punter.

Posted by danmcb on (November 29, 2012, 8:43 GMT)

He's been one of the greats of the game. Had his ups and downs like everyone, but truly a top class act. I wish him a great farewell game and a very happy retirement. Thanks Ricky.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 8:03 GMT)

@Sohel Rana - Chanderpaul is left too. These 3 played in 1996 world cup. Long long ago...

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 7:52 GMT)

yet another skipper to bite the dust around smith!

Posted by disco_bob on (November 29, 2012, 7:45 GMT)

This is going to be a remarkable Test match, by any criteria. With a wholesale juggling of the bowlers, a toe to toe slugfest with both teams left standing in Adelaide, and SA yet to truly show that they are number one, it is going to be impossible to predict the outcome of a match where the No. 1 title is at stake by two teams neither of whom has shown they deserve it.

SA looks like they might just hold on and they deserve to at least keep the title if only to prove their ordinary performance was not the best they can do. However with Ponting officially handing over the reigns and bowing out, Clarke would, if he won, at least be able to go on to prove that the team deserved to win by continuing the steady improvement.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I think if SA do not play Tahir, then they are not an honest team and they will lose. So for my money it all hinges on Tahir. With regards to Mitchell Johnson's form, Ponting has already shown than club form is no proof.

Posted by Imz25 on (November 29, 2012, 7:22 GMT)

"He's the kind of guy that if he told me to jump off a bridge I probably would, I'd follow him anywhere. I'm not here to fill Ricky Ponting's shoes, I'm going to go out there and try and do the best I can. To replace 12,000 runs is a big feat and I still haven't scored any." - Usman Khawaja. This sums up Ponting's impacts on his team mates.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 7:04 GMT)

A class act- truly one of the greatest batsmen of this era. Prolific and dominating in his peak. Time to move on, though!!

Posted by Meety on (November 29, 2012, 7:01 GMT)

Hope he gets 4 more than his debut here! (& no dodgy LBW!)

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 6:57 GMT)

A match that Ponting said he wanted to win more than any other game he has ever played!!!!!

Posted by popcorn on (November 29, 2012, 6:56 GMT)

Ricky Ponting deserves a wonderful farewell.I hope the Aussie players carry him on his shoulders at the end of the WACA Test.I hope Michael Clarke asks him to lead the Team out to field. I hope he is given a bat salute by BOTH Teams as he comes out to bat. How emotional can I get? But like the Ricky Ponting we know, it's the game ahead that matters. I feel a lump in my throat as I say this. And Michael Clarke is numbed by the decision of his mentor and constant companion - a man who recruited him, but did not feel that it was beneath hs dignity to play under him.Adios amigo,Punter.

Posted by valleypf on (November 29, 2012, 6:55 GMT)

The second best batsman produced by the most successful Country in Test cricket history. Now that's achievement!

Posted by Aussasinator on (November 29, 2012, 6:48 GMT)

He's realised and leaving finally. A great batsman against many kinds of bowling. Now if onaly a certain Sachin Tendulkar takes the cue too......

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 6:45 GMT)

An era is ending, now only Sachin Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis is left.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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