A new dawn beckons for Australian cricket as another of the old rear-guard retires. Ricky Pointing announced his retirement from international cricket on Thursday after one of the most successful careers in the game, spanning seventeen years.

The 37 year-old has scored 13,366 Test runs, which is the second highest in the history of Test cricket, behind the unsurpassable Indian, Sachin Tendulkar. Along with his three World Cup triumphs (two as captain) and captaining one of the best ever Australian sides, many would place him higher than Tendulkar when considering the whole package.   

The reason Ponting is such a key figure in international cricket is not only because of his personal accolades but also because of what he brings to the team. We are in an era of cricket where there are few like him. The only comparable would be Graeme Smith, but Ponting is far more consistent and is the perfect cricketer in the sense that he blends the individual and team characteristics of the game admirably. His captaincy never affected his batting, where it foes with others. He knew when to be motivational, tactical, determined, defensive, aggressive, but also knew when to put the team first. Every side needs a Ricky Ponting.

He inherited Steve Waugh’s team of the nineties back in 2002 and these were a side, some would argue, at saturation point- they had won everything. Could he take them any further? Evidently he could, as he steered them to two World Cups wins, 2003 and 2007, and once handed the Test captaincy in 2004 went on to construct the series whitewash of England in ‘that’ Ashes Series of 2007/8.

He hasn’t always been littered with glory though; in fact as captain of the national team, he suffered three Ashes defeats. However, he always remained dignified in post-match interviews, despite losing his cool during some memorable battles with England.

The whitewash victory over England in 2007/08 was the last we saw of his former legendary teammates (Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, and Glenn McGrath) as Ponting confronted the difficult challenge of bringing through the next generation.

It has to be said the last few years of his career didn’t go as well. Hundreds became harder to achieve and Test series’ victories weren’t easy to come by as the new players couldn’t reach the heights of their predecessors. As a result, the Australian team fell down the international rankings for both ODIs and Tests.

After a World Cup quarter-final defeat to India in March 2011, Ponting stepped down as captain, handing the role to Michael Clarke. During Ricky’s reign, he won the most Test matches (48) as an Australian captain and will be recognised alongside the best captains of Australia. He now realises he has had his time as a player as well and will call it a day after his 168th Test match against South Africa this weekend. He will be remembered as a true winner, a true warrior and some might say a true Tasmanian devil!


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