Ponting to retire after Perth Test

Sydney, Nov 29 (IANS) Australia's greatest run−getter Ricky Ponting will retire after the Perth Test against South Africa.

Ponting told reporters Thursday that the Test against South Africa starting here Friday would be his 168th and the last.

The former captain has obviously given up his stated desire to play in one last Ashes series in England next year looking at his run drought in this series, reports in the Australian media said.

He has not made much of an impact in the two Tests in Brisbane and Adelaide.

Ponting said he had thought long and hard about the decision.

"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," Ponting said.

"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."

Ponting said he didn't want to dwell on his achievements.

"As far as I'm concerned, my immediate focus now and I know the team's immediate focus is what we're presented with tomorrow," Ponting said.

"We're going into what I believe is almost a grand final," Ponting said.

"I'm hungrier than ever and want this win probably more than any game I've ever played in.

"If we win then there's no better time to give it away anyway.

"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 at an average of 52.21. He is the second highest run scorer behind Sachin Tendulkar.

Ponting's captaincy record is impressive except that he could not retain Ashes more than once and that led to his ouster soon after last series against England in Australia, paving the way for Michael Clarke to step in.

Ponting lost place in the One−Day side, but kept it in the Test team. However, his performance was not up to the mark.

After an impressive showing in the Sheffield Shield before the series against the Proteas, the 37−year−old has been under immense pressure to keep his place in the side, having made only 20 runs in three innings.

"Over the last couple of weeks my level of performance hasn't been good enough," he said.

"My passion and love for the game hasn't changed. At the end of the day (the decision) was based on my results. In this series so far they have not been up to the level required of batsmen and players in the Australian team.

"I'm glad I have got the opportunity to finish on my terms."

The entire Australian squad turned up for the press conference.

Australian skipper Michael 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 little while, the last few days. The boys are obviously hurting at the moment. He's been an amazing player for a long time."


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