Ponting is still convinced that his decision to retire was the right one
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has announced that he truly believes he made the right decision about his retirement, despite some people claiming that it came prematurely.
Ponting noted that the feeling about never stepping out onto the cricket pitch in front of thousands of fans has finally sunk in after a “long, tough week”.
That it’s [career] over has sunk in,” Ponting said. “t’s been a pretty long, tough week I guess, I know I’ve been more nervous this game than any other game that I’ve played.
“Just for the reason how much it means for me to play for Australia and wanting to finish the right way. So it has been a hard week and we haven’t got the result we were after and I haven’t got the result I was after. Looking back it’s been a special week as well, having my whole family here’s been great, unbelievable support from them, and great support from the fans and from my team-mates, so it’s been a special week.”
Ponting also explained that he decided to bring his career to an end since he was not scoring enough runs and the pressure was constantly building and starting to become too much to handle.
“Excluding Brisbane and the start of Adelaide, when I got a pretty good ball, I just think I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to perform knowing that I had to, or feeling within myself that I had to,” Ponting added. “Also knowing where the series was at, it’s always been about big games and big series for me, and getting off the start I did with those two innings just had me under pressure again, and I haven’t been able to deal with it as well of late as I’d have liked to.
“Normally for me when those big moments come around, I’ve been able to find something within and go out and score runs and make it all go away, but I haven’t been able to do that for a while now, and that was when the alarm bells started to ring.”
The former captain also appreciated the ovation the South African players gave him when he walked out to the crease for the final time in his illustrious career.
“I got my big ovation, but Graeme’s gesture and the South African team’s gesture, that sort of stuff will remain with me forever, and I told him that on the field,” Ponting said. “So that was special.”
“I was pretty pumped up for the moment, I just felt there was one last big push from me, and the game and the day was set up for it, and it didn’t last long enough. Even out of today, just being at the crease for 20-odd balls, it’s a pretty special time, and anyone who’s retired has felt that as well. It just would’ve been nice to have a few next to my name coming off.”
When asked who the best batsmen of his era were, Ponting wasted no time in pointing out India’s Sachin Tendulkar, the West Indies’ Brian Lara and South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis.
“I felt Sachin was the best player I played against, and that’s coming from more of a captain’s point of view as well, knowing he had so much success against us in our conditions and their conditions,” Ponting added. “But the other way to look at it is, I probably lost more sleep on the eve of games against Lara, because I knew he could singlehandedly win games for his team.
“The way I judge players has always been on their ability to win games, and win games by themselves. Lara could certainly do that and he did it probably more than what Sachin’s done for India. It’s hard to separate the class of player – you’ve got to put Kallis in that bracket as well.
“You put his wickets on top of what he’s done with the bat. He came out the other day to bat and I looked at the board and he was averaging 57 in Test cricket. That’s remarkable considering the amount he’s had to bowl and all that sort of stuff. I’ve been pretty blessed to play in the era I’ve played with so many great batsmen, and if my name gets mentioned among them, then that’s great.”
Ponting also named the West Indies’ Curtly Ambrose, Pakistan’s Wasim Akram and India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh as the best bowlers he faced during his international career.
“I think Curtly Ambrose and Wasim Akram were probably the two outstanding quicks that I faced, and for different reasons,” Ponting said. “Ambrose for his ability to just make you feel like you couldn’t score off him for long periods of time, never felt like he was going to bowl you a bad ball.
“Akram for the exact opposite, you could get a few runs off him, but you just knew there was an unplayable ball around the corner, be it with an old ball or with a new ball. And thankfully for me I probably got both of those guys towards the end of their careers as well.
“Those two, and Harbhajan’s probably the other one who caused me as much grief as anything. He got me out a lot of times, and caused me a lot of grief. Those guys through their careers can all put their hand up and say they had my measure.”
The former captain further mentioned that he would miss his team-mates and the dressing room the most.
“I’ll miss the mateship, I’ll miss the dressing room,” Ponting added. “That’s the stuff that’s irreplaceable in your life I guess.
“There’s a lot of guys in there I’m very close to, and a lot of the guys I’ve been closest to over the years are no longer around the dressing room either. I guess that’s the upside, I’ll probably get to spend a bit more time with those guys who I’ve played most of my cricket with, but the get-up attitude and find a way to make yourself better and try to find a way to make your team-mates better is what I’ll miss.”