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Ponting decides it s time to declare
Ponting decides it's time to declare

An Australian cricket era will end during the Perth Test with Ricky Ponting to retire from the game after the deciding match of the Australia-South Africa series.

Ponting told teammates this morning of his decision.

The former Australian captain has underperformed so far this series and confirmed the third Test against South Africa in Perth will be his last.

"I've given cricket my all," he said. "I haven't been performing consistently over the last 12-18 months. I believe now is the right time to be making this decision.

"This is a decision not made by the selectors, it was made by me."

He said he would continue to play for Tasmania this season.

“Over the last couple of weeks my level of performance hasn’t been good enough,” he said.

“My passion and love for the game hasn’t changed. At the end of the day the decision was based on my results. In this series so far they have not been up to the level required of batsmen and players in the Australian team.

“I’m glad I have got the opportunity to finish on my terms.”

Australian captain Michael Clarke said the announcement gave his side extra incentive to win the third Test.

“It will only give us more inspiration,” said an emotional Clarke as he fought back tears.

“He has been a great player for a long time."

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland paid tribute to Ponting’s contribution to Australian cricket.

“Ricky has had an extraordinary career and has made an extraordinary contribution, including through the example he has set for other elite players and through the excitement he has given fans, young and old,” Sutherland said.

Ponting said he would in no way be distracted for the series-deciding Test against South Africa where the world No.1 ranking is up for grabs.

“I want this win more than any other game I have played in,” he said.

Ponting will equal Steve Waugh’s mark of 168 Test matches in this match, the most in the history of Australian cricket. But the Tasmanian right-hander won't play on to break the mark in the series with Sri Lanka.

The entire Australian squad turned up for the press conference today in Perth where Ponting made his announcement.

Turning 38 next month, Ponting is the highest Australian run-scorer of all time and has been described as the greatest Australian batsman outside Sir Donald Bradman.

The Tasmanian has 13,336 Test runs to his name, only Indian Sachin Tendulkar has scored more in the history of cricket.

Ponting suggested after the second Test in Adelaide where he made four and 16 that the end might be near, and his fate was now in the hands of selectors.

Ponting has hit 13,366 runs in his Test career at an average of 52.21. He has made 41 centuries.

However, his form has waned in the past 18 months. He has struggled in the first two drawn Tests with South Africa, scoring 20 runs and being dismissed relatively easily.

There wasn't a dry eye in the house at the Australian team hotel when Ponting broke the news to teammates.

Ponting's wife Rianna and two daughters Emmy and Mattise as well as Australian teammates, coach Mickey Arthur and chief selector John Inverarity were present in the WACA gym as the greatest Australian batsman since Don Bradman made his announcement public.

He held things together in front of the media, but the normally stoic Ponting said he was highly emotional when he talked to his teammates earlier in the day.

“I tried to say a lot but I didn't get much out,” Ponting said. “They'd never seen me emotional before, but I was this morning.”

Australian captain Michael Clarke followed Ponting into the press conference room to announce his 12-man squad for the third Test against South Africa.

Asked what the atmosphere was like in the room, when Ponting addressed his teammates, Clarke wasn't able to finish his answer before breaking down in tears.

“No, I didn't have the feeling it was coming,” Clarke said. “Ricky spoke to me after the Adelaide Test match, and made his decision over the last little while.

“The boys are obviously hurting at the moment. He's been an amazing player for a long time.”

Clarke then paused for more than 10 seconds and fighting back tears said: “And that'll do me for today.”

The West Australian

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