Ponting to play on in Test cricket
Ricky Ponting has confirmed that he will play on in Test cricket but has conceded that his one-day international career is over.
Ponting announced his decision at a press conference in Sydney the day after he was dropped from Australia's one-day international squad. Although Ponting did not expressly state that he was retiring from ODIs, he said the national selector John Inverarity had told him he was not in the selectors' plans in the 50-over format as they build towards the 2015 World Cup.
"It's a little bit hard to come here today and say I'm retiring when I've already been left out of the side," Ponting said. "I don't expect to play one-day international cricket for Australia any more and I'm pretty sure the selectors don't expect to pick me either."
Ponting will leave the ODI arena with 13,704 runs at 42.03, second only to Sachin Tendulkar on the all-time run tally. A three-time World Cup winner who captained Australia to two of those titles, Ponting will finish his limited-overs career as Australia's most-capped ODI player.
However, his decision to play on in the baggy green means he will add to his 162 Tests on the tour of the West Indies in April. He has also confirmed that he will play for Tasmania and perhaps even at club level in an effort to retain his strong form for the Test side, following an excellent series against India - the third-most prolific of his Test career.
"I will continue playing Test cricket and I'll continue playing for Tasmania as well," Ponting said. "I think I've proved to myself and to everybody else that I'm still capable of dominating Test cricket as I did in the last series against India. I'm looking forward to getting back and playing the last couple of Shield games for Tasmania this year and then heading to the West Indies hopefully with some runs under my belt.
"With the two Shield games I've got before the West Indies tour it's important I spend as much time as I can around the Tasmanian side and get the training required and preparation required to play those games as well and then go to the Caribbean. When we get back from there it will be back into a pre-season maybe even with my club team, Mowbray Cricket Club in Tassie, they might even see a bit more of me as well."
Ponting will leave the one-day game after five single-figure scores in the Commonwealth Bank Series, the longest such period in his ODI career. He said while he did not believe there was anything technically wrong with his batting over the past few weeks, it had been a challenge mentally to push on from his success in the Test series and carry that form into the one-day format.
"My body has been able to get through the rigours of this summer really well and I think my mind has just been a little bit behind where my body's been," he said. "When you're not as sharp as you need to be at international level, then you can expect you're not going to play as well as you like either.
"The thing with the Test summer for me, yes I spent a lot of time in the middle and yes I made a lot of runs, but the work I had to do outside to get my game back to where it was towards the end of the Test series I've had to work harder than ever in my career and I worked harder than everybody else in the Australian team right through the last 12 months. At some stage that was going to catch up with me and I think just being not quite as sharp as I needed to be at the start of the one day series has played a bit of a part in why I haven't scored those runs."
Ponting holds no bitterness to the selectors and was pragmatic in accepting their decision to plan for the future, although he also said he had "put his neck on the line" for the one-day side by stepping in as captain in his final two matches while Michael Clarke was injured. Ponting had been reluctant to take on the leadership, given that David Warner had been Clarke's vice-captain, but he understood it was best for the side for him to take on that position.
"I honestly felt deep down that it was best for the team that I took that role on and tried to get the team through the last couple of games in the best way possible," he said. "With the amount of experience I had it was probably a pretty easy decision.
"I captained nearly 170 games, so it was going to come a bit easier to me than it was going to come to someone who had never captained international cricket before. I took that on, almost put my neck on the line a little bit for the team, but that's what I've always done and that's what I'll always continue to do."
Ponting, 37, said it was clear the end of his international career was drawing closer, but that he felt he still had plenty to offer the Test side after scoring 544 runs at 108.80 against India this summer. After Australia's tour of the West Indies, the next Test series is not until November at home to South Africa, and Ponting hopes to still be in the side then.
"The passion for the international game of cricket for me has not died or changed one little bit," he said. "I still don't see a finish line as far as my international career is concerned. Now that one-day cricket isn't there any more we all know that day is coming closer and closer for me. I don't think I'm the sort of person who is going to want to have a massive farewell series. I'll make a decision when I think that I can't contribute to winning games for Australia."
While Ponting's limited-overs career is over at international level, he is still likely to turn out for Tasmania's Ryobi Cup side. There is a strong possibility the Tigers will benefit from his experience this weekend when they take on South Australia in the one-day final at the Adelaide Oval, and Ponting will also be in the state's one-day mix next season.
"I need to be playing as much cricket as I can to be well-prepared for every game that I play," Ponting said. "With me now only playing Test match cricket, next summer for instance if there happened to be some Ryobi Cup games immediately before a Test match then I'd obviously take the opportunity to play those games."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here