Ricky Ponting reflects on his 17-year career after playing his final Test, against South Africa in Perth.
The finality sinking in: That it's [career] over has sunk in. It's been a pretty long, tough week I guess, I know I've been more nervous this game than any other game that I've played. Just for the reason how much it means for me to play for Australia and wanting to finish the right way. So it has been a hard week and we haven't got the result we were after and I haven't got the result I was after. Looking back it's been a special week as well, having my whole family here's been great, unbelievable support from them, and great support from the fans and from my team-mates, so it's been a special week.
Why it was time to finish: Excluding Brisbane and the start of Adelaide, when I got a pretty good ball, I just think I've put a lot of pressure on myself to perform knowing that I had to, or feeling within myself that I had to. Also knowing where the series was at, it's always been about big games and big series for me, and getting off the start I did with those two innings just had me under pressure again, and I haven't been able to deal with it as well of late as I'd have liked to. Normally for me when those big moments come around, I've been able to find something within and go out and score runs and make it all go away, but I haven't been able to do that for a while now, and that was when the alarm bells started to ring.
The guard of honour and the final ovation: I got my big ovation today, but Graeme's gesture and the South African team's gesture, that sort of stuff will remain with me forever, and I told him that on the field today. So that was special. I was pretty pumped up for the moment, I just felt there was one last big push from me, and the game and the day was set up for it, and it didn't last long enough. Even out of today, just being at the crease for 20-odd balls, it's a pretty special time, and anyone who's retired has felt that as well. It just would've been nice to have a few next to my name coming off.
On the supreme batsmen of his era: I felt Sachin was the best player I played against, and that's coming from more of a captain's point of view as well, knowing he had so much success against us in our conditions and their conditions. But the other way to look at it is, I probably lost more sleep on the eve of games against Lara, because I knew he could singlehandedly win games for his team. The way I judge players has always been on their ability to win games, and win games by themselves. Lara could certainly do that and he did it probably more than what Sachin's done for India. It's hard to separate the class of player - you've got to put Kallis in that bracket as well. You put his wickets on top of what he's done with the bat. He came out the other day to bat and I looked at the board and he was averaging 57 in Test cricket. That's remarkable considering the amount he's had to bowl and all that sort of stuff. I've been pretty blessed to play in the era I've played with so many great batsmen, and if my name gets mentioned among them, then that's great.
On the best bowlers he faced: I think Curtly Ambrose and Wasim Akram were probably the two outstanding quicks that I faced, and for different reasons. Ambrose for his ability to just make you feel like you couldn't score off him for long periods of time, never felt like he was going to bowl you a bad ball. Akram for the exact opposite, you could get a few runs off him, but you just knew there was an unplayable ball around the corner, be it with an old ball or with a new ball. And thankfully for me I probably got both of those guys towards the end of their careers as well. Those two, and Harbhajan's probably the other one who caused me as much grief as anything. He got me out a lot of times, and caused me a lot of grief. Those guys through their careers can all put their hand up and say they had my measure.
On what he'll miss: I'll miss the mateship, I'll miss the dressing room. That's the stuff that's irreplaceable in your life I guess. There's a lot of guys in there I'm very close to, and a lot of the guys I've been closest to over the years are no longer around the dressing room either. I guess that's the upside, I'll probably get to spend a bit more time with those guys who I've played most of my cricket with, but the get-up attitude and find a way to make yourself better and try to find a way to make your team-mates better is what I'll miss.