A lovely gesture…

A quality gesture from the South Africans today in Perth, forming a guard of honour as Ricky Ponting came to the wicket for his final Test innings.  Graeme Smith has already described Ponting as the most competitive player he’s come across, and this all just shows how well the Proteas both respect the player and value his wicket…

Ricky Ponting walks off the WACA ater his final Test innings. Image: ACA via Twitter

UPDATE: And it was over shortly after…

Ponting was out for 8, mistiming a backfoot shot and getting an edge to Jacques Kallis, who took a sharp catch at slip.  Ponting will finish with a career average of 51.85 from his 168 Tests.  Well played, Ricky…

The day I asked Ricky Ponting his last question as Australian Captain

Ricky Ponting in his last presser as Australian Captain, after the Fourth Ashes Test in Melbourne, December 2010. He’d just lost the Ashes for a third time as Captain..

One of CricInfo’s ‘Chuck Fleetwood-Smiths’, Jarrod Kimber, very nicely pointed out in his 2010/2011 Ashes post mortem book, Australian Autopsy, that I asked Ricky Ponting his last question as Australia’s Test Captain.  It was at the end of Day 4 of the Boxing Day Test, after England had regained the Ashes, and Ponting would later be ruled out of the Fifth Test in Sydney a week later.

Ponting would stand down as Australian Captain after the 2011 World Cup, a few months later.

This is how Jarrod recorded it:

“Then the last question was by Brett from The Roar.  When they said it was Brett’s question, everyone turned to him.  He looked pale, and he struggled to get his question out cohesively.  ‘Do you see an immediate thing that you can change to lift the team in a couple of days?’  It was a good question, and Ponting answered it as well as he had the others.  It couldn’t have been scripted better: if this was Ponting’s last Test, as a player or Captain, Brett was the best person in the room to ask him the final question.  It was as if the last question was saved for a fan, rather than for another journalist.  It was probably my favourite moment of the whole series.”

It was as full a press conference as any had been during the Test. None of knew at the time that this would be Ponting’s last as Captain..

I did struggle with the question, and it was a good one; so good in fact, that Channel Ten used Ponting’s answer in its entirety that night in their news bulletins and on Sports Tonight.  It may have been because I was standing right next to the Ten camera, and so it did look like Ponting was looking down the barrel, but I’m running with it being such a good question.

Of course, none of us knew it at the time, but it would be the last time Ponting answered a presser question wearing the Baggy Green…

Ricky pulls the pin

This day was always going to come, and probably sooner rather than later, but it’s still a weird feeling.

This coming weekend in Perth will be the last time we see Ricky Ponting in the Baggy Green, after he announced today that he’ll retire after the Third Test against South Africa at the WACA.  He made his Test Debut at the same ground in the 1995/1996 season.

It’s difficult to pick a single Ponting highlight.  Sure, the 2003 World Cup Final knock springs to mind, but then so do a couple of memorable Boxing Day innings, and even his “I’ve still got it” ton in Sydney last season.  There were other knocks, like his hundred in the 2011 World Cup Quarter Final that were massively important at the time, that perhaps don’t get the credit they deserve.

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Ricky, oh Ricky…

Ponting b. Kallis 4.  And an early leader in the Ugliest Dismissal of 2012/2013…

Ricky Ponting was bowled by Jacques Kallis in Adelaide yesterday, in one of the more unattractive dismissals in recent memory.

Even aside from the horrendous loss of balance, there were a number of technical issues that troubled me about Ponting’s dismissal, which I’ve detailed today over on The Roar.  Only a few weeks shy of his 38th birthday, and with his aging contemporary, Michael Hussey still belting Test hundreds for fun, this is as ill-timed as it gets for technical glitches in the Ponting game.

Meanwhile, Australia set all sorts of records in Adelaide yesterday, amassing a mammoth 5/482 on Day 1 of the Second Test, after being reduced at one stage to 3/55. 

Michael Clarke became the first man in Test Cricket history to compile four double-centuries in a calendar year, David Warner broke the shackles with a 112-ball 119, and Hussey was out on what became the final ball of the day for 103.

And South Africa, the No.1 Test team in the world, well, they have a mountain of work ahead of them in this match already..