Ricky Ponting admitted it hurt him to step down as Australia captain after spending almost 10 years at helm. With a win ratio of 67.91 percent, Ponting is considered the finest captain in history having won 200 of the 324 matches he led Australia in. Two years after being appointed Australia’s ODI captain in 2002, Ponting succeeded Steve Waugh to become the national team’s Test skipper in 2004.

Under Ponting, Australia won two consecutive Cricket World Cups in 2003 and 2007, but despite taking Australia to golden heights, Ponting in 2011, decided to step down, paving way for Michael Clarke to take up the role.

“Did it hurt? Yes. Giving it up hurt. I think I realised it was the right time for Australian cricket,” Ponting told Sky Sports. “I want to give the next captain appropriate time to go into next couple of big tournaments. I wanted to ensure Michael (Clarke) had enough time to be the best captain he can be in the next big event.”

“It was really touch and go that would make it to the next Ashes. I thought it was right time to give it up and give Michael every opportunity.”

Ponting stepped down from captaincy following Australia’s quarterfinal loss to India at the 2011 World Cup, when for the first time in 19 years, the then four-time World Champions did not make it to the final four of the 50-over World Cup. Ponting continued to play on for Australia till 2012 before calling time on his international career.

“I made a hundred in the World Cup quarter-final and I was still playing well. There were a few eyebrows raised when I said I would like to play on,” Ponting said.

“The major reason I played on is because there were a lot of young guys coming in at the time and I wanted to make sure I was around to help them. Believe me, there was nothing left for me to achieve in the game and I was only around for what I thought was best for Australian cricket.”

Under Ponting, Australia lost three Ashes series against England. Ponting said that even though the back-to-back Ashes defeats in 2009 and 2010-11 were disappointing, the loss at in 2005 in England was the hardest for the former skipper to deal with.

“Everyone in 2005 expected us to just come over here, whitewash them [England] again and come back with the Ashes. That didn’t happen that way. Certainly, for me, the 2005 defeat was the hardest to cope with. But 2010-11, we were just completely outplayed,” he said.