Ponting, 38, will retire after the Twenty20 Champions Trophy and remains with Surrey until the end of the month, but in the shadow of the excitement at Trent Bridge he set about occupying the crease and saving his side from defeat.

The great batsman, ranked only behind Don Bradman in most lists of Australia’s finest, finished his dogged innings against Nottinghamshire at Kia Oval on 169 not out from 420 balls. 

It won’t go down as his most flamboyant knock, but one in which he assessed the situation, the job required for the team, and executed it. 

“That’s what I’ve always prided myself on, standing up when the team needs you most,” he told Surrey Cricket’s website (see his chat below). “Probably frustratingly for me that’s what I couldn’t do at the end of my international career. But since I’ve finshed and gone to Tasmania and played well there, and come and had a short stint here and played reasonably well it’s been nice to do it when it mattered.” 

Head bowed and applauded by the small crowd, the second highest run scorer in Test history raised his bat in acknowledgement before being congratulated by his teammates and taking the white pads off for the last time.

“It’s a nice way to finish my first class career, would have been nice if it was in a winning team,” he said. 

“Someone had to take the responsibility and bat through the whole day and it turned out to be my turn today.”

His retirement from international cricket came in December when he didn’t believe he was playing well enough to stay in the national team, so it seemed bizarre he’d be scoring a timely tonne while his country collapsed. 

He admitted to TNT recently that he’d have itchy feet during the Ashes, but didn’t predict this is how he’d deal with that.

He also said, “I’ll be sitting back watching the next generation of Australian players hopefully playing well enough to win a series.”

 When he stepped aside to make way for new blood, he surely didn’t predict the next great run scorer would be a left-arm tweaker named Ashton Agar, who almost scored a century and kept Australia in the game today.

As it turns out, his final first class appearance will be one of determination and service to his team. 

And despite a cracker of a Test going on in Nottingham, greats of the game took notice. Many of them his former opponents. 

Once Ponting leaves Surrey, he will play in the inauguaral Caribbean Premier League before his swansong with IPL champions, the Mumbai Indians, in India.

Image via Getty