Perth crowd give Ponting standing ovation after final innings
IN the end it was over all too quickly.
The small Perth crowd, no doubt hoping the WACA pitch that had yielded big centuries to Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers on Sunday, would give up one more for Ricky Ponting in his final innings for Australia yesterday.
The South Africans showed plenty of respect for the former captain by forming a pitchside guard of honour, but there would be no charity to go with it.
The 37-year-old spent four balls struggling to get off the mark, but was clearly intent on not giving up his wicket cheaply, getting purposefully behind everything the Proteas bowlers sent his way.
He got off the mark with a trademark pull to the midwicket boundary off Morne Morkel, who responded with a quicker one aimed at Ponting's throat.
Having reached eight thanks to a second boundary off Dale Steyn, he tried to back cut a ball from spinner Robin Peterson, but succeeded only in directing it into the hands of fellow 37-year-old Jacques Kallis at first slip.
With that he strode off in his Australian helmet for the final time, shaking hands with the South African players who rushed to farewell the man who finished his Test career with 13,378 runs at 51.85 with a top score of 257.
The crowd again stood as one, Ponting stopping to acknowledge their support, bat and helmet raised in salute.
History will show he was not only Australia's highest-scoring batsman, he was also our most successful captain.
No doubt helped by the contribution of the likes of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist, Ponting finished his eight-year stint in charge with a record 48 wins in 77 Tests.
He also led the team to two World Cups, and counted his 140 in the final of the 2003 renewal in South Africa as his finest innings for his country.