It is the end of an era, not only in Australian cricket but in the sport the world over as one of the greatest players in the history of cricket has retired from the international game.
Ricky Ponting has been one of the greats for many years but called it a day at an emotional press conference in Perth, Australia on Thursday.
After making his test debut for Australia in 1995 at the age of 20, he played 167 test matches, scoring 13,366 runs at a very impressive batting average of 52.21. Ponting also has over forty centuries and 50 half-centuries to his name.
The Perth test match with South Africa that starts on Friday will be his last.
“It’s a decision that obviously I thought long and hard about,” Ponting, 37, said. “…it was based on my results and my output really in this series so far.
“It wasn’t been what I expect of myself and it certainly hasn’t been to the level that I feel is required for batsmen and players in the Australian team.
“…I’ve said all along, I continue to play this game as long as I felt that I could contribute to wins and play well enough to help the team win games…
“Over the last couple of weeks I think my level of performance hasn’t been good enough to do that.”
Ponting is perhaps the second best Australian batsman ever, and while the first is, and probably always will be, the legendary Donald Bradman, that is some compliment. For years, he was the best batsman in the world’s best team.
Ponting, famous for a glorious pull shot, took one of Australia’s most prestigious sporting roles in 2004 when he became captain of his country’s test team.
It was his misfortune to be appointed at a time when the team, which had dominated world cricket for a decade, was starting a downward spiral with many of the greats starting to retire.
It was to his credit that Australia continued to be able to mix it up with the best and one of the highlights of his captaincy was thrashing England 5-0 in December 2006 to recapture the Ashes he had lost just over a year earlier.
After England returned down under to win four years later, Ponting stepped down as captain, though not as batsman, and passed command to Michael Clarke.
Clarke was visibly moved when talking about the decision later in the day.
“No, I didn't have a feeling it was coming,” he said.“…Ricky spoke to me… after the Adelaide Test match, … and made his decision I guess over the last little while, the last few days, and, yeah the boys are obviously hurting at the moment.
“He's been an amazing player for a long time … and that'll do me for today.”
The tributes poured in, and not just from his teammates. Harbhajan Singh, a wily spin bowler from India, was one of the very few that Ponting struggled against on the pitch. Singh dismissed Ponting during play more times than any other test bowler.
"It is very sad news for the cricket world, another legend of the game has retired," Harbhajan said on Thursday night.
"What comes to my mind when I look back and think about Ricky Ponting is that he was one of the greatest players for Australian cricket.
"He is one of the best players I've come across and I've always had a lot of respect for him.
"I enjoyed every moment playing against him, He has always been a very gutsy player.”
He was more than that, and he will be missed throughout the cricket world.