Ricky Ponting, Australia’s record run-scorer, said he will retire after the third cricket Test against South Africa in Perth, where the home nation is seeking to wrest the number-one ranking from the visitors.
“I believe the time is right now to be making this decision,” Ponting, 37, told a news conference in Perth today. “This is not a decision that has been made by the selectors. This is a decision that has been made by me.”
A regular in the national team since debuting in 1995, the three-time World Cup winner and former captain said his failure to consistently score runs over the past 18 months prompted his decision. In the first two tests against South Africa, where the series is level after drawn matches in Brisbane and Adelaide, Ponting has scored just 20 runs in three innings.
Ponting began playing for the Tasmania state team as a 17- year-old and made his national debut in a one-day match against South Africa in 1995 at age 20. He has scored an Australian- record 13,366 Test runs and has the most Test catches by a non- wicketkeeper for the nation with 196. The Perth test will be Ponting’s 168th, equaling the Australian record held by former captain Steve Waugh.
“I’ve given cricket my all,” said Ponting, who made his test debut in the same city against Sri Lanka 17 years ago, narrowly missing a century after being dismissed on 96.
The announcement “will only give us more inspiration” to win the final test against South Africa, Australian captain Michael Clarke told reporters in Perth. “The boys are obviously hurting.”
Australia excluded fast bowlers Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus from its 12-man squad for the five-day match that starts tomorrow after the pair’s heavy workload in Adelaide, where South Africa batted through the fifth day to salvage a draw. All-rounder Shane Watson returns from injury, while bowlers Josh Hazlewood, John Hastings, Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc enter the team.
South Africa would retain the No. 1 spot in the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings by avoiding defeat in the best-of-three contest, while Australia can overtake the Proteas at the top with a series victory.
Ponting said he wants to win the match more than any other in his career. He’s notched up 41 centuries with a top score of 257 and averages 52.21 in test match cricket.
Along with South African Jacques Kallis and Indian Sachin Tendulkar, Ponting is regarded as one of the greats among cricketers still playing the game. Known for his faded baggy green cap and crisp pull shots, Ponting scored more than 1,000 test runs in a calendar year five times, most recently in 2008.
He averaged more than 100 in 2003. The same year he scored three double centuries, joining Don Bradman as the only other Australian to acomplish that feat. Clarke last week bettered that when he notched his fourth double century of the year and his second straight against South Africa this summer.
Ponting was captain for an Australian record 77 matches from 2004 to 2010, winning more games as skipper than any other. He’s also the only Australian captain to lose three series against traditional rival England.
Previously, the right-handed batsman had said he wanted to take on England in back-to-back Ashes series starting next year.
“I’ve made up my own mind and feel I’m not good enough to get there,” Ponting said today. “I want to be a consistent performer and if you look back over the past 12-18 months I haven’t been able to perform consistently.”
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