Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting suffers big defeat in his final Test appearance
The 37-year-old scores just eight runs as home side lose series to South Africa
He is the most successful skipper in Test history and cricket's second-highest run scorer
ICC chief says Ponting will be remembered as one of the legends of the game
His glittering cricket career may have ended in an anticlimax on Monday, but Ricky Ponting will be remembered as one of the game’s greats, according to one of his first opponents on the international stage.
Ponting made just eight runs as Australia suffered a crushing defeat by South Africa in the third and final Test in Perth at the venue where he made his debut in the five-day format 17 years ago.
Set an unlikely 632 to win, the home side lost by 309 runs as the tourists retained the world No. 1 ranking and became the first team to win consecutive series in Australia since the West Indies in 1992-93.
It is a measure of how far Australia’s cricketing fortunes have fallen since Ponting was named cricketer of the decade for 2000-09 by the respected Cricinfo website, having guided his country to a record 48 Test victories before standing down from the captaincy in 2011.
He has played in a record 108 Test wins overall from 168 appearances – equaling Australia’s highest number of caps along with Steve Waugh – and is the second-highest run scorer in both the five-day and limited-overs formats.
David Richardson, now the chief executive of the International Cricket Council, played against Ponting when the batsman made his international debut in a one-day match against South Africa in February 1995.
“His contribution to the international game has been immense and quite rightly he will be remembered as one of the true legends of the sport,” Richardson said of Ponting, who ranks behind only Don Bradman in Australia’s list of batting greats and is the only player to have won the ICC’s cricketer of the year award twice in a row.
“He was the most successful captain in the history of Test cricket and was the first player to feature in 108 Test match victories. He also steered Australia to two ICC Cricket World Cup triumphs – as well as playing in a third – during which time they set a record of 34 consecutive victories: yet another record.
“Ricky was a team man but along the way collected many personal accolades. We wish him well in the next stage of his career and look forward to his ongoing involvement in the game beyond the boundary.”
Ponting took over from Waugh as Australia’s Test captain in 2004, two years after he claimed the role in the one-day team.
However, Australia’s dominance gradually waned and the writing was on the wall for Ponting when he lost an Ashes series to old rivals England for the third time in 2010-11 on home soil.
He stayed on as captain for the 2011 World Cup but stood down after a quarterfinal exit, vowing to improve his batting form.
Ponting scored 13,378 Test runs at an average of 51.85, compiling 41 centuries, but he made just 32 at 6.40 in his final series as he struggled to regain his past heights.
“I have put a lot of pressure on myself to perform, it has always been about big games and big series for me,” he told reporters on Monday.
“I haven’t been able to deal with it as well of late as I would like to. Normally when those big moments come around I have been able to find something, and I haven’t been able to do that for a while now.”
Ponting was given a standing ovation by the 7,000 crowd at the WACA ground, and the South Africans performed a guard of honor as he went to the crease for his final innings.
“He is the player I respect most,” said Proteas captain Graeme Smith.
“It was a sign of respect from us for someone who has given the game so much. All of us will miss Ricky as an opponent.”
Australia will next start a three-Test series against Sri Lanka in Ponting’s home state of Tasmania on December 14 – five days before his 38th birthday.