Ponting picks right time to bow out of Test cricket, say experts

Former Australian captain and ace batsman was wise to quit before next year's Ashes tour of England

LAST UPDATED AT 10:37 ON Thu 29 Nov 2012

RICKY PONTING, the batting great and former Australian cricket captain who announced the end of his international career today, has quit "at the right time and on the right note", according to the Australian press.

The 37-year-old Tasmanian batsman will walk away from Test cricket after the Perth Test against South Africa which begins on Friday, leaving "memories of imperious straight drives and commanding pull shots", writes Chloe Saltau in Melbourne's The Age.

Ponting is the second highest run scorer in Test history after Sachin Tendulkar. He has scored 13,366 runs at an average of 52.21 in his career, but has struggled to find form in the current series against South Africa, scoring just 20 runs in three innings.

Saltau says his retirement could have been "messy", but in the end it was "professional and businesslike, a bit like one of his interviews with the press".

Writing in Melbourne's Herald Sun, Malcolm Conn says it was always "unrealistic" for Ponting to go to England to play in next year's Ashes series "however much he may want to".

Ponting seems to agree, citing his poor recent performance as the main reason he was quitting Test cricket.

The Australian cricket captain has a special place in sports-mad Australia and tributes to Ponting were led today by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, who told parliament he was retiring with "a lot of gratitude and a lot of thanks from the Australian community", reports Sky News Australia.

England batsman Kevin Pietersen was one of the first players to add his tribute, tweeting: "One of the greats! I always got excited playing Aus so I could watch him bat up close."

Although he was undoubtedly a great cricketer, Ponting's prickly personality, ruthless desire to win and occasional tactical blunders, meant his relationship with the Australian public and media was sometimes uneasy.

In an article first published last year, but re-published by the Sydney Morning Herald today, the late Peter Roebuck calls Ponting an "unselfish and unswerving leader whose devotion to the team cannot be questioned". But he adds the cricketer was also a "grouchy character" who presided over three Ashes losses and a "deeply flawed World Cup campaign". · 

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