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Posted on Nov 29, 05:08PM | IANS
Australia batting great Ricky Ponting Thursday decided to call time on his illustrious career post the final Test against South Africa here, the place where he made his Test debut in 1995, drawing rich tributes from the cricketing world.
Ponting told reporters here that the match starting Friday would be his 168th and last.
"It struck me only a few weeks ago that my preparation was good as it'd been. But my performance hadn't been good enough for the team. I'm very comfortable with the decision I've made. Timing-wise it's the right time, at the end of a series. There's not much more I can give," said Ponting.
"My immediate focus now and I know the team's immediate focus is what we're presented with tomorrow. We're going into what I believe is almost a grand final. I'm hungrier than ever and want this win probably more than any game I've ever played in. Ironically this is where it all started (Perth) for me and it's where it's going to finish."
The Tasmanian has an astonishing record scoring 13,366 Test runs in 167 Tests at an average of 52.21. He is the second highest run scorer behind India's Sachin Tendulkar. Ponting, who turns 38 Dec 19, also has 41 centuries with a highest of 257.
He also played 375 One-Day Internationals (ODI) scoring 13,704 runs at an average of 42.03, including 30 centuries.
Fondly known as "Punter", his captaincy record is impressive except that he could not retain the Ashes more than once and that led to his ouster soon after the last series against England in Australia, paving the way for Michael Clarke.
"The decision was based on my results. In this series so far they have not been up to the level required of players in the Australian team. I'm glad I have got the opportunity to finish on my terms," added Ponting, who led Australia to two World Cup triumphs in 2003 and 2007.
Commenting on his predecessor skipper Clarke broke down and said, "I didn't have a feeling it was coming. Ricky spoke to me after the Adelaide Test match, he'd made his decision over the last few days. The boys are obviously hurt. He's been an amazing player for a long time."
Tributes started flowing in from other former greats and teammates.
Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden and Shane Warne hailed Punter.
"Well done Punter on an incredible career. It would be great to see you finish with a ton. It was an honour to play alongside of you. #legend," tweeted McGrath, who won three World Cups in 1999, 2003 and 2007 with Ponting.
Former left-handed opener Hayden said: "Punter, congratulations on a fantastic career. Your departure will be a massive hole in the Australian Cricket team."
Legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne said: "Congrats to Ricky Ponting on an amazing career, well done Punter... Enjoy your last match in Perth buddy, was a pleasure playing with you!"
Among his cricketing rivals, England's Kevin Pietersen also complimented the Australian great.
"Ricky Ponting RETIRES.... ONE OF THE GREATS! I always got excited playing AUS, so I could watch him bat up close. Well done Punter!" said Pietersen on Twitter.
Former England skipper Michael Vaughan saluted him.
"The best batsman I had the privilege to play against ... Australia cricket will not be the same without him. Ricky was a very underestimated bowler as well. Quicker than he looks!" said Vaughan.
Among Indian cricketers Virat Kohli and Bishan Singh Bedi also wished him the best.
"Ricky ponting what an absolute legend. I am glad I had the honour of playing against him. Take a bow," said Kohli.
"Tall Tasmanian calls it a day-R Ponting truly Great,Competitive, Proud wearer of baggy green-pld more than 100 Tests winning side-super feat," said Bedi.