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The greatest ever Australian Test batsman in many experts' reckoning, Ricky Ponting, has announced he’ll play his 168th and final Test in Perth against South Africa starting tonight (London time).

An emotional Ponting broke the news to the Aussie team before facing the media overnight (London time). He’ll finish his career where he debuted, back when his baggy green was in far better shape, at the WACA Ground in a match that could see the Australians return to number one in the Test rankings.

With his Rianna and daughters Emmy and Matisse nearby, and his teammates standing quietly at the back of a packed press conference, the 37-year-old said: “It struck me only a few weeks ago that my preparation was good as it’d been."

"But when the big moments came around my performance hadn’t been good enough for the team ... It certainly hasn’t been to the level that I feel is required for batsmen to play in the Australian team.

"I’ve said all along that I would continue to play this game and contribute to wins to play well enough to help teams win games.

"Over the last couple of weeks my level of performance hasn’t been good enough to do that.

"My passion and love for the game hasn’t changed right through the last 12 or 18 months when things haven’t been as I would have liked them.

"I know I have given cricket my all, it's been my life for 20 years. There's not much more I could give," he said.

As always, Punter’s focus remains on the team, which while he’s no longer captain he remains it’s spiritual leader.

“As far as I’m concerned my immediate focus now and I know the team's immediate focus is what we’re presented with tomorrow," Ponting said.

“We’re going into what I believe is almost a grand final.

"I’m hungrier than ever and want this win probably more than any game I’ve ever played in. If we win then there’s no better time to give it away anyway.”

Ponting’s debut in 1995 was against Sri Lanka – he scored 96 and was wrongly given out LBW when the ball struck his thigh.

He said he was especially emotional when telling his side his decision.

"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."

Not surprisingly, the tributes flowed, starting with his current skipper Michael Clarke, for whom Ponting has been a mentor.

"He's been an amazing player for a long time," said Clarke, tearing up.

Despite his recent form slump, Tasmanian Ponting has scored an incredible 13,366 Test runs at an average of 52.21, second highest only to Sachin Tendulkar.

With his final Test, Ponting will equal Steve Waugh’s Australian record of 168 Tests in Perth – they stand behind Tendulker again for the world honour.

Images via Getty


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Aussie legend Ricky Ponting to retire from Test cricket in series decider against South Africa
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