19th June, England v South Africa, 09:30 GMT
Ricky Ponting admits that his final outing for Australia was one of his most nerve-wracking, and that his inability to score runs under pressure was one of the main reasons why he decided to retire.
Speaking after the end of the third Test against South Africa, in which he scored just 12 runs during a 309-run defeat that handed the Proteas the series, 1-0, he said:
"It's been a pretty long and tough week. I know I've been more nervous, this game, than any other game I've played, just for the reason for how much it means to play for Australia and wanting to finish the right way.
"It has been a hard week and we haven't we got the result we were after and I haven't got the result I was after," he added.
Ponting revealed his decision to retire prior to the match amid much speculation that his time to step aside had come with him in the midst of a prolonged poor run of form.
"It's always been about big games and big series for me, and getting off to the start I did with those first 2 innings just had me under pressure again. I haven't been able to deal with as of late as I would of liked to," he said.
"Normally for me when those big moments come around, and when I've been under pressure, I've been able to find something and go out and score runs and make it go away. I haven't been able to do that for a while now and that's when the alarm bells started to ring."
Open an account with bet365 today and qualify for up to £200 in free bets.
It was a game of mixed emotions for Ponting, who finishes with 168 Test caps and 108 wins behind him. For all the celebration of his wonderful career, Australia were outplayed and missed the chance to return to the top of the Test rankings.
"One poor day in the entire series has cost us that series and a chance to get to number one in the world, which we have all worked so hard for and wanted so much," Ponting lamented.
"That's Test cricket though, you have to take the opportunities when they present themselves. We had some opportunities in Adelaide, obviously, to get a win and go 1-0 up, and that might of been a different feeling for me right now. "
However, despite the result, he has been able to enjoy his farewell and the reception given to him by the fans, both in Adelaide and Perth.
"It's been a special week as well, having my whole family here has been great, unbelievable support from them and great support from the fans and my teammates so it's been a special week.
"I was comfortable with the decision before this game anyway. In my mind I knew it was the right time to be walking away, I just probably had a bit more of a fairytale ending in my own eyes than what has happened in this week."
The Ricky Ponting story isn't quite complete, however. He will lead out the Prime Minister's XI againt the touring Sri Lankans, where he likely to come up against old adversaries Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara while he will continue to play for Tasmania and the Hobart Hurricanes.
"It won't be until the end of the Tasmanian summer until I have a chance to let it all sink in and think about a lot the things, good and bad, that have happened in my career," he concluded.
Focusing on the good, International Cricket Council Chief Executive David Richardson praised Ponting for his achievements during his career.
Richardson, who was playing when Ponting made his debut for Australia against South Africa in Perth in 1995, said:
"His contribution to the international game has been immense and quite rightly he will be remembered as one of the true legends of the sport.
"He was the most successful captain in the history of Test cricket and was the first player to feature in 108 Test match victories. He also steered Australia to two ICC Cricket World Cup triumphs - as well as playing in a third - during which time they set a record of 34 consecutive victories – yet another record. He was also captain for two successful ICC Champions Trophy campaigns.
"Ricky was a team man but along the way collected many personal accolades and is the only player to have won the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for Cricketer of the Year at the LG ICC Awards for two years in succession (2006 and 2007). We wish him well in the next stage of his career and look forward to his ongoing involvement in the game beyond the boundary."
© Cricket World 2012
Open an account with bet365 today and qualify for up to £200 in free bets with our fantastic 100% Deposit Bonus.