Calcutta: An emotional Ricky Ponting on Thursday lost his customary composure when he told his teammates that he would bring the curtains down on an illustrious 17-year career after the third Test against South Africa beginning in Perth, on Friday.
At a press conference, the 37-year-old said that he was calling it quits as he has not been performing to the desired level.
The effect of Ponting's retirement was writ large across the red eyes of the captain, Michael Clarke.
"I didn't have a feeling it was coming," Clarke said. "Ricky spoke to me after the Adelaide Test match and made his decision I guess over the last few days. The boys are obviously upset at the moment. He's been an amazing player for a long time… That'll do me for today. Sorry, I can't answer that."
The following are excerpts from Ponting's address to the media and the press conference
As you probably seem like you're all very aware now, a few hours ago I let the team know of my decision to make this Test match my last. It's a decision I thought long and hard about, put in long consideration about the decision… At the end of the day it was based on my results and my output really in this series so far. It hasn't been what I expect of myself and it certainly hadn't been to the level that I feel is required for batsmen and players in the Australian team.
As I've said all along, I'll continue to play this game as long as I feel I could contribute to wins, play well enough to help the team win, and over the last couple of weeks I think that my level of performance hasn't been good enough to do that.
My passion and love for the game hasn't changed one bit, right through the last 12-18 months when things probably haven't been as I would've liked them or pictured them. I'll continue this season to play out the rest of the summer, and I'm looking forward to a full season of the Big Bash with the Hobart Hurricanes.
But I think it's really important today, I could sit here all day and reflect on my career and talk about the great teams I've played in, the great players I've played with and against, but I honestly believe that's for another time, there's other days and times for that at the end of this game… At the end of my career we can all get together and talk about those moments.
As far as I'm concerned, my immediate focus now and the team's immediate focus is what we're presented with tomorrow. That's an unbelievable opportunity. We're going into what I believe is almost like a grand final. I've prepared well this week, and as I said to the boys this morning, I'm hungrier than ever and want this win probably more than any other game I've ever played in, so I'll do whatever I can this week to contribute to a great team performance.
If that happens to lead to a win for the team and we get back to the top of the tree and No. 1 in the world then there's no better time for me to finish anyway. This week we've got a big job ahead, and especially me, I've got to lift my level of play from where it was last week to where it is this week. I've got a good feeling I can do that, and as I said there's no better stage than in a finals type game, a big game, to try to do that this week. Ironically, this is where it all started for me, I think 17 years ago, this is where it all started, and that's where it's going to finish.
On how hard it was to discuss retirement
The lady sitting beside you there (wife Rianna) was the first one I spoke to about it. It was towards the end of the Adelaide game when I first started contemplating what it might mean, and contemplating if I believed within myself if I was good enough to play the way I've been known to play through the years. I think the thing that struck home mostly was that only a few weeks ago I felt my preparation had been as good as it has been for a while. My Shield form had been good, I'd scored runs, I felt good about my batting, but when the big moments come around I haven't been able to delivery what's been required for the team. That was when I first started thinking about things. We spoke long and hard and there's been a few sleepless nights over the last couple of days to reach the decisions, but I'm very comfortable with the decision I've made. I think timing wise it's the right time. At the end of the series it'll give whoever my replacement is the chance to start afresh in a new series and for me those little things have been pretty important as well.
His contribution to the game
I know I've given cricket my all. It's been life for 20 years. Not much more I can give.
If there was one moment or dismissal that triggered this
I want to be a consistent performer, and if you look back over the last 12 or 18 months I haven't been able to perform consistently. I've had moments of really good stuff, and prolonged moments of cricket that's been below my expectations and below a par level for me, so there hasn't been one dismissal or one moment, it's just been in my own eyes reasonably consistent failure. That's why I believe the time is right now to be making this decision.
Whether he had the unanimous support of the selectors
I believe so, there's been all sorts of things in the papers the last couple of days and I know certainly with my captain and my coach I couldn't have had any more support from those guys, and they've been the ones who've been most verbal about their support. This is not a decision that's been made by the selectors, this is a decision that's been made by me, and I'd like to thank all those guys for the support they've given me over the last 12 months. There were probably moments when they thought long and hard about ending my career and I'm glad I've got the opportunity to finish this way and on my terms.
Missing the Ashes next year
It's not tough at all, because I've made up my own mind that I'm not good enough to get there. So that's not a tough decision. When you've come to the realisation that what you can give is probably not good enough then it's a pretty easy decision.
His plans after cricket
I've got a few months of cricket yet, which I am really looking forward to. I really enjoyed the start of this season playing cricket with Tasmania and back with some of my mates… So I'll enjoy that for what it is, but this is my new team here (pointing to his family).
His teammates' reaction
I tried to tell them a lot, but I didn't get much out. As I said to the boys this morning, they've never seen me emotional, but I was this morning…
Thoughts on who should replace him in the team going forward
Thankfully for me I've never been a selector, right through my time, and probably right at the moment I'm thankful I'm not a selector again. But I guess it's really pleasing from my point of view that there are a few guys out there in Shield cricket who are scoring runs at the moment. I know whichever way the selectors decide to go with the next player, they'll play well for Australia. We've got great structures, great set-ups now around our team, the next player will be given every opportunity and I'm sure they'll do well.