Ponting ponders life of leisure
A week into his retirement, Ricky Ponting is already developing a taste for life after cricket.
Ponting admitted he quite enjoyed getting to a Test match right on the appointed 10.30am start time rather than two hours before, and that he was not exactly sorry to be missing training for the Hobart Hurricanes in Melbourne. This was in order to be conveyed around Bellerive Oval in the back of a ute as a way of saying thankyou to the Tasmanian cricket faithful, who numbered 6,221 on the first day of the first Test against Sri Lanka.
The question of Ponting's life after Test matches has been pondered by many in the wake of his emotional exit at the conclusion of the South Africa series, and the man himself is wondering aloud at how the pull of participating in the game will be diminished by the lack of Australian duty to sustain him.
"I'll see how I feel about cricket at the end of this season," Ponting told Channel Nine. "It might be a little harder for me I reckon, playing those last few games out, knowing there's not the bigger picture in mind as there's always been for me when I've played state cricket, which is to play for Australia."
While Cricket Australia and the national captain Michael Clarke are equally keen to have Ponting still involved with the team in a coaching or mentoring capacity, the attraction of a lucrative and far less stressful role as a television commentator has its appeal.
"I'd like to work in the media at some stage, at some time, in some way, shape or form," Ponting said. "Just being around cricket for as long as I have and being part of successful teams, I think I've got a pretty good knowledge of the game and I'm pretty insightful on the game I think. So we'll wait and see what happens."
Ponting was memorably granted a guard of honour by South Africa's captain Graeme Smith at the WACA ground as he commenced his final innings, and in Hobart he and his family were flanked by the ranks of cricketers from his home club of Mowbray in Launceston before starting on his valedictory lap of the oval.
"As we all know things came to an end for me last week, so to be here in a different capacity today is good fun," Ponting said. "I'm excited about this next little phase of my life, all my family here and a lot of my club-mates have even made it down for the game - they probably bought all their tickets weeks ago thinking I was going to be playing, but unfortunately I'm here as a spectator with them today.
"I generally get a little bit embarrassed when people start talking about me, and even having a whole lunch break in a Test match dedicated to me today is a little bit more than what I would have expected as well. But the reason it's here is for me to come and say goodbye to the Hobart fans and people of Tasmania who have looked after me so well over a long period of time."
As for those final moments in Perth, particularly his opponents' spontaneous gestures of thanks for a career spanning 17 years and innumerable achievements, Ponting said they would not soon be forgotten. "That is something I'll never, ever forget," he said. "When I pulled Graeme Smith out of the line and shook his hand I said 'I really appreciate this' and he said 'no, you deserve it, but just make sure you don't get too many against us today'.
"I thought all the running around that was happening after I got out was just them celebrating the wicket, but they were actually running over to try to shake my hand and say congratulations on my career. Robin Peterson got me out and actually apologised, he said 'I'm sorry about that'.
"So there were a couple of things that took me by surprise, the guard of honour and then all of them running to me on the way off. I got 10 metres from the gate and realised I hadn't said goodbye to the crowd either, so I had to take my helmet off, and do all that stuff, and make sure that I acknowledged my family, and everyone there as well. A lot of those are memories I'll never forget."
Before Ponting thinks about whether he might play another season, he has the BBL to negotiate, flying to join the Hurricanes ahead of their date with Shane Warne's Melbourne Stars on Saturday. But the enthusiasm that has always been there for any game of cricket is quickly being tested by the more leisurely life. "I'm actually missing a training session so it's not that bad," Ponting said. "The boys are over in Melbourne training at the moment, so I'd rather be here I think."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here