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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
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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 ) ..it 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 .

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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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