Former Australia skipper and the second-highest run-scorer in Test cricket, Ricky Ponting, said that the week surrounding his retirement during the third and final Test against South Africa at Perth last month was “tough” and “emotional”, but he has no regrets about it.
Ponting, who has 13,000-plus runs to his name in both Tests and One-Day Internationals (ODIs) was reflecting upon the final match of his illustrious career.
“I am not dreading the decision, it is just the way it had to be,” Ponting told Peter Lalor of The Australian. ”As much as I thought I could play forever, or wished I could, it was always going to come to an end at some stage.”
“Emotions have been in check after that week in Perth which was a pretty emotional week on all fronts.
“Telling the boys, then doing the press conference with you guys (journalists) at the end of the match, there were so many emotions flying around.
“Going to training on the last day knowing it was the last time in the nets with the side was hard, going out to bat in both innings was interesting.
“I was more nervous than I have ever been in the first innings of that game. I was a little bit calmer in the second innings, but it was pretty intense the whole week. My parents were over, Rianna and the girls were there. It was a tough week,” he said.
Ponting said that he had built himself up for his last game, and that he was disappointed that he could not sign off on a higher note. Australia went on to lose the match, the series and he opportunity to grab the number one ranking in Tests to the Proteas.
“I sat there. I kept my pads on for quite a while, just thinking about everything, thinking about how disappointed I was that game worked out the way it did,” he said. “It wasn’t so much about my career being over, because that still hasn’t happened yet.”
“Gilly (Adam Gilchrist) came in and tried to have a chat; I gave him nothing. We caught up later that night for a few hours, but I didn’t have much to say to him five minutes after I was out. I couldn’t see myself but I was reckon I was pretty grey.”
Ponting will still play in the upcoming Australian domestic season before hanging up his gloves all together. Speaking about the aftermath of the loss, the 37-year-old said that the Australian team had a lot of fun with the South Africans.
“We spent more time in the South African rooms than we did in our rooms, walked right into one of those drinking games that they play and ended up getting involved in that and sculling four or five beers.
“It was a really fun night, it was fun to see what their team means to them — the way they go about things and what their team is compared to ours. It was good to be a part of.”
Ponting said that he has no plans of playing the English county season and the Indian Premier League (IPL). “Look, you never say never, but it’s highly unlikely I will do either,” he said.
Asked about the highlights of his career, Ponting picked his debut at Perth in 1995 against Sri Lanka when he scored 96. The Tasmanian also chose Australia’s 2006-07 Ashes win as another one. “The level of cricket played by our team during that series was as good a cricket as I have been involved with in any team,” he said.
He also spoke highly about the South Africa tour in 2009, which Australia won 2-1, where he was captain of a team half-filled with debutants. “After the (Durban) game I walked in front of them so I could see the looks on the faces of (Philip) Hughes, (Marcus) North, (Andrew) McDonald, (Peter) Siddle, Hilfs (Ben Hilfenhaus). No one thought we could do that (win the series).”
Asked to reflect about the infamous ‘Monkeygate’ scandal, Ponting was careful with his choice of words. “The real story? It’s coming,” he said. “I won’t miss too many people with that whole saga, because that was, yeah, I won’t miss too many there.”
Ponting also said that continuing to play for Australia after stepping down from captaincy, under a new captain, was “an odd decision”.
“Cricket Australia was worried about me being in the team with a new captain and I just said to them, ‘I am here to make this place a better place, I am not here to get in anyone’s way. Michael (Clarke) will captain the side and if he wants advice I will give it, otherwise I will sit in the corner and not say boo’,” Ponting said.