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Ricky's last stand leaves no doubt

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Cricket farewells one of the greats

Cricket legend Ricky Ponting's Test career comes to an end.

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THE long ovation for Ricky Ponting conveyed how much he will be missed, but his short farewell innings confirmed the extent of his decline.

Ponting stood for a moment in disbelief when an attempt to carve the modest left-arm orthodox spin of Robin Peterson off the back foot ended with a thick edge to Jacques Kallis at slip.

The ball that defeated Ponting for the last time, three balls before lunch, didn't turn much, but got big on him. It was hard to watch a champion and former captain finish like this, with the last of a succession of bad shots.

Ricky Ponting waves to the crowd as he leaves the ground.

Ricky Ponting waves to the crowd as he leaves the ground. Photo: Reuters

Peterson will be the answer to a trivia question - who dismissed Ricky Ponting in his last Test innings? - but he also delivered the ultimate validation of Ponting's decision to retire before the call was made for him, as it would have been after a series in which he managed just 32 runs at an average of 6.40.

The numbers take some digesting in the context of a decorated career that has spanned 17 years and produced 13,378 runs at 51.85 - his average dipped below 52 in his final Test - but they also tell the story of a faded champion who has admitted the selectors could easily have ended his career last summer.

That did not diminish the poignancy of the farewell for Ponting, from his South African opponents and from the WACA Ground crowd that witnessed a couple of classic shots from his pomp before the champ was gone.

Ricky Ponting comes out to bat. Click for more photos

Ricky Ponting's farewell Test innings

Ricky Ponting receives a guard of honour and a standing ovation for his last Test innings. Photo: Robert Cianflone

He pounced on a short ball from Morne Morkel, pulling it regally from in front of his eyes, and drove Dale Steyn through the on side for four, with the help of a Morkel misfield. When it was over, the words ''Thanks Ricky'' flashed on the scoreboard as Ponting stopped in the outfield and raised both arms, turning to all parts of the WACA Ground as if he, too, was saying thanks.

Michael Clarke, moved to tears by Ponting's retirement announcement and probably by the Vernon Philander ball that broke his protective box on Monday afternoon, patted his friend on the shoulder as they crossed on the stairs to the dressing room.

The captain provided some immediate perspective, charging at Peterson and hitting the last two balls before lunch for four. As Ponting said his last goodbyes, here was a batsman in his prime.

The tributes flowed, and will continue with Cricket Australia expected to honour Ponting at the next Test - against Sri Lanka - in Hobart.

On Monday, Shane Warne led the tributes. The great leg-spinner finished his international career on the ultimate high of a five-nil Ashes victory when most felt he could have kept going. There was no such fairytale for Ponting, but Warne was pleased that a fellow champion was able to depart before he was pushed.

''I gave him his nickname, 'Punter', because he liked to back greyhound dogs,'' said Warne. ''As far as his skill goes as a batsman he's one of the top few Australian batsmen ever and he'll be well regarded worldwide. He's going to be missed.

''I suppose it's great he didn't have to get put in any position [to be dropped] whether it was the next Test or the one after or whatever … When you have one of the great players it's always nice when he goes out on his terms. He went out on his terms today, and that's really nice that he had that chance.''

13 comments so far

  • England skinned `em in the last Ashes Series in Australia, South Africa slaughtered `em in the three Test Series just ended and the overall winner was....That wallop, crash, boom, bang garbage colloquially recognized as Cow Cricket by purists and a pathway to financial glory by promoters!

    Commenter
    Geronimo
    Location
    Yippee Yi Yo
    Date and time
    December 04, 2012, 7:51AM
    • True, it was sad to witness Ricky ponting exit meekly, but let's not forget the magnificent contribution he has made to the game. It must have been an emotional moment for him when he entered the arena for the last time. The South African team's grace toward him was delightful by the way.
      I imagine Bradman must have felt pretty much the same before he was bowled for an inglorious duck by Eric Hollies, in his last hurrah at The Oval. Ricky's decision to retire now was essentially the right one. All I can add is - well played Sir!
      The Australian team has now entered a new era and there are several issues at hand.
      First, to replace Ponting.
      Second, to persuade Dan Warner that he has to approach test cricket with a different attitude to that required in shorter versions of the game. His vigour is to be admired however and his future does appear rosy.
      Third, Australia's bowling attack needs to be spear-headed in the way it was for the West Indies by Wes Hall and England by Fred Trueman, in the days of my youth. Presently we have a superb stable of support quicks yet nobody in the Dale Steyn class.
      On a happier note it was a delight to view that determined tenth wicket stand yesterday. Well done lads. Pressure does indeed produce diamonds.
      Finally, sincere congratulations to South Africa.
      (May I add I did feel sorry for Amla just missing his double century. TG remains an old-school sportsman at heart!)

      Commenter
      Sir Tyson Garfield
      Location
      Leather-to-Willow
      Date and time
      December 04, 2012, 8:07AM
      • Agree completly on you Warner call. His temprement doesn't seem suited to the long form of the game.
        When fit, James Pattinson has shown that he can be the spearhead.

        Commenter
        Barney
        Location
        The Real World
        Date and time
        December 04, 2012, 1:37PM
    • thanks ricky for all the years. either batting or fielding ..you were a star ...thank you

      Commenter
      eureka
      Location
      eureka nsw
      Date and time
      December 04, 2012, 8:32AM
      • Punter was a legend and I think he could have gone on longer if he wanted but he is a team man and the moment he thought he couldn't contribute to his standards he retired, hats off to him. He is right about the options available for his replacements, as a Bulls fan I would be biased towards Usman but he has earned it too, thanks to his batting this year we are at the top of the shield table, he single handidly won the game against Tasmania where his 140 odd outscored the Tasmanian's total. I think he is exactly what we need in the top order. I also think selectors should give Quiney another chance but for Hughes leave him in shield as he needs more time and runs to work out his technical issues.

        Commenter
        Ryan
        Location
        Castle Hill
        Date and time
        December 04, 2012, 10:18AM
        • You think he could have gone on for longer? His average this series is 6.4 he should have gone years ago and not lingered like he has. he has averaged in the thirties for four of the previous five years. Not the stats of someone who " could have gone on longer".

          Commenter
          Tim
          Location
          Melbourne
          Date and time
          December 04, 2012, 11:29AM
      • Well done Ricky on a great career. I feel he should have called it after the India series last year, he would have gone out a winner. I would like to see our team to go for a more thorough re-build. i.e. Khawaja in for Ponting and up to 3. Watson down to no. 4 or below, he bowls so he should not be in the top 3. Warner is another who I feel spot is in jeapordy. He needs to leave a few more outside off stump, especially when its the 1st over of a day. Our selectors have quite a dilemna now, I feel the selectors were very arrogant on the Perth squad selection.

        Commenter
        B.V.T
        Date and time
        December 04, 2012, 10:26AM
        • Ponting has always been one of the most hated Australian cricketers here in New Zealand. That pretty much sums up how good a player he was...

          Commenter
          Dr Zoidberg
          Location
          At work
          Date and time
          December 04, 2012, 10:45AM
          • does anyone else read the comments in the cricket section in Bill Lawry's voice? Thanks Ricky, you made me hate cricket.

            Commenter
            ben
            Location
            melbourne
            Date and time
            December 04, 2012, 11:49AM
            • His career is full of unsportsmanlike/disrespectful/pathetic behaviors. Also he is a pretty avg captain and did not know how to face on under pressure situations.
              However he is a wonderful batsmen..

              Commenter
              James
              Location
              Melbourne
              Date and time
              December 04, 2012, 12:24PM

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