Perth - Australia's Ricky Ponting announced his retirement from international cricket on Thursday, telling a stunned news conference he would be calling time on his glittering 17-year career after this week's third Test against South Africa.
The former Australia captain has scored 13 366 runs in 167 Tests - the second-highest haul in the long history of the game - and stands behind only the great Don Bradman in the ranks of Australian batsmen.
“A few hours ago I let the boys know of my decision to make this Test my last,” Ponting, who turns 38 next month, told reporters in the weights room under the stands at the Waca.
“It's a decision I thought long and hard about. It was based on my output and my results in this series so far. It hasn't been what I expect of myself and certainly not the level required of a batsman in the Australia team.
“I've said all along that I would continue to play as long as I could continue to make a contribution to wins, and I think over the last couple of weeks my performance has not been good enough to do that.”
Ponting, who retired from one-day cricket in February, has scored nought, four and 16 in his three innings so far in the series against South Africa.
Ever the competitor, Ponting said the time to look back over his career would come after the Perth Test, where victory for Australia would see them leapfrog South Africa to return to the top of the Test rankings.
“It's a great opportunity. We're going into what I consider to be almost a Grand Final,” he said.
“As I said to the boys this morning, I'm hungrier than ever and I want this win probably more than any other game I've played.
“If we get back to the top of the tree, to the top of the world, there's no better time for me to bow out.”
Ponting made his Test debut against Sri Lanka at the Waca a week shy of 17 years ago, making 96 in his one innings as Australia won by an innings and 36 runs.
An ashen-faced Australia captain Michael Clarke said it had been a surprise to the team when his predecessor and mentor announced his impending retirement.
“That'll be enough for me today,” he said after a long pause as he struggled unsuccessfully to contain his emotions.