FORMER Australia captain Ricky Ponting wrote his farewell script at The Oval, where the 38-year-old called time on his first-class career by batting all day to salvage an LV= County Championship draw against Nottinghamshire.
The 168-times capped Australian hit an unbeaten 169 and frustrated Nottinghamshire’s attack for more than seven hours in his red-ball cricket swansong for the county.
Ponting, who is set to retire from all forms of cricket in October, made his score off 319 balls to lift his first-class run tally to 24,150 at an average of 55.90 in 289 appearances as he made his exit from the four-day game in style.
By reaching three figures, Ponting went past Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Mark Waugh in the all-time list of first-class hundred makers to join Darren Lehmann on 82.
Now he will play Twenty20 with Surrey and will head for the Caribbean Premier League before returning to Australia, where he will commentate for Network Ten on the Big Bash League as well as pursuing business interests.
Ponting, who amassed 493 runs in his six innings for the Brown Caps at an average of 123.25, looked to life beyond cricket.
He said: “First-class cricket is over for me now.
“As much as I enjoy it and as much as I know I can keep playing, there are other things I have to look after in my personal life. It’s been 21 years now.
“A lot of that time has been away from home. It’ll just be nice to live life as a father and as a parent.
“I’ll stay involved with the game. I love the game too much and love competing.
“I’ve got some stuff to do with the Big Bash back in Australia this year and the Ashes series is back on in the summer, so I’ll be there or thereabouts, involved somewhere.
“Today, on a personal note, was a nice way to finish.”
When asked if his effort in any way made him reconsider his decision to retire, Ponting told Sky Sports News: “Look, there’s no doubt I could continue to play and continue to play well.
“In saying that, I’ve really enjoyed the time I had here with Surrey and my intentions were not to retire when I first came, it is just that opportunities have opened up back home off the field.”
Ponting had clearly not absorbed the magnitude of yesterday being his final bow, saying: “To tell you the truth, I haven’t really thought about this being it.
“I’ve been pretty zoned in and focused on what I’ve had to do for Surrey.
“It wasn’t until Gareth Batty talked to the boys about the career being over that I’ve had a chance to sit back and take my white pads off, put them over there and think that’s the last time I’ll be wearing them.
“That’s what makes playing like I did today that little bit better.
“If I’d have failed in this innings, then it would have been a really disappointing way to finish.
“That’s what I’ve tried to do as much as I can here. I’ve just tried to spend as much time as I can with the younger blokes, talking about cricket, talking about batting and talking about my experiences.”
He added: “Hopefully, the boys have learned something from the way I go about things and the way I have played my cricket.”
ICC to induct Warne into hall of fame
Shane Warne will be inducted into the International Cricket Council’s Hall of Fame in London later this month.
The leg-spinner’s accomplishments will be recognised on Friday, 19 July, during the tea interval of the second Ashes Test between England and Australia at Lord’s.
Warne, who took 708 Test wickets during an illustrious career, will be celebrated alongside former Australia team-mate Glenn McGrath, West Indian great Brian Lara and England’s Enid Bakewell.
Warne said: “I’m very honoured and proud to be announced as an inductee into the ICC Hall of Fame and I’d like to thank the voting academy very much for even considering me. I’m looking forward to celebrating my induction with my friends and family in front of the crowd at Lord’s during the second Ashes Test.”