AUSTRALIA'S most successful cricket captain Ricky Ponting has announced he will retire from Test cricket at the conclusion of the third Vodafone Test in Perth
Ponting is the most prolific batsman to every play for Australia. 13,366 runs at an astonishing average of 52.21 makes him the leading run scorer in Australia's proud history.
Furthermore, Ponting is poised to equal Steve Waugh's record for most Test appearances when he plays his 168th match against South Africa at the WACA.
It has been an exceptional career thus far for Ponting, who debuted against Sri Lanka back in 1996.
He was controversially adjudged LBW for 96 in that match; much to the disappointment of the Perth crowd.
His fine knock was an indication of just how good he was going to be.
Ponting endured an up and down next few years; highlighted by a swashbuckling 197 against Sri Lanka at the WACA. However, problems on and off the field saw him dropped from the national side.
Back to back centuries to open the 2002/03 Ashes campaign heralded a change in Ponting's approach, with the Tasmanian keen to make up for lost time.
His sparkling form continued the following year, when he became the second Australian player to hit three double centuries in a calendar year.
Consecutive scores of 242 and 257 against India capped off a record breaking season that confirmed his status as one of the premier players in world cricket.
His incredible form was soon rewarded with the Test captaincy in 2004.
This aspect of his game was first class, with Ponting becoming the most successful captain of all time in Test cricket.
While there were a number of dizzying heights, Ponting endured some terrible lows.
He became the first captain to lose three Ashes series, including the demoralising home loss in 2010/11.
The team's struggles were compounded by Ponting's sudden woes against the new ball.
A series of failures at home and in South Africa exposed Ponting's footwork deficiencies.
The loss in form coincided with his decision to relinquish the captaincy to Michael Clarke.
With his place in the team in jeopardy, Ponting knew the only way to silence his critics would be to score a stack of runs.
Instead of giving up, Ponting vowed to fight on, and returned to his brilliant best during the 2011/12 romp at home against India.
Ponting averaged a whopping 108 for the series, including scores of 221 in Adelaide and 134 at the SCG.
The blistering return to form was a reminder to selectors and the media that he was anything but a spent force.
However, the hot form didn't last as long as he would have liked, with Ponting again being found out against South Africa.
Although he brought magnificent Shield form into the series, the former captain has struggled against the best bowling side in the world so far.
Apart from being a premier batsman, Ponting is also regarded as one of the greatest fieldsman to ever play the game. When he was younger, Ponting was brilliant at point.
He has now turned himself into a secure slipper who is still capable of taking out of this world screamers.
Despite a recent run of outs, there is no doubting Ponting's prodigious talent and value to the game.
There have been few players like him, and his eventual loss will be almost impossible to replace.
Number 5 - Double the Fun
In 2005/06, Ponting incredibly scored centuries in each innings of the First Test against the West Indies.
Following on from the Ashes disappointment, the captain was keen to reignite his side's winnings days, and did everything he could to lead the way.
His 149 in the first innings was backed up by 104* in the second dig in front of a roaring Brisbane crowd.
It is an astonishing feat that has rarely been replicated, and will go down as one of his bets individual performances.
Number 4 - Record Breaker
Few cricketers hold more records than Ricky Ponting.
Not only is he the most successful captain of all time, the leading run scorer in Australian cricket and has scored the most centuries for Australia, but he also has the most catches for Australia at Test level.
He has been a once in a generation player who inspires everyone who plays with him. He is also set to equal Steve Waugh's record for most games for Australia with 168.
Number 3 - Drought Breaker
Ponting headed to India in 2008 knowing that he had failed to fire in his previous trips to the sub-continent.
On a dry wicket in Bangalore, Ponting answered all of his critics with a balanced first-day 123.
Given the pressure he was under, this would have been one of the most satisfying and rewarding knocks of his career.
Although Australia didn't win the match, Ponting took solace from the fact that his maiden ton played a huge part in Australia not losing.
Number 2 - Return of the King
Amid constant media speculation, Ponting produced one of his finest series to guide Australia to a 4-0 rout of the Indians in 2011/12.
After struggling for form against South Africa, Ponting answered any doubts about his technique with a mammoth double ton at the Adelaide Oval.
The 221 was backed up by an equally as impressive 134 at the SCG. It was a sensational series for the former skipper, who averaged a jaw-dropping 108 over the four Tests.
Number 1 - Double Double Ton
2003 was a breakout year for Ponting, whose back to back double centuries against India won him universal praise.
It was a near perfect Summer for the soon to be skipper, who took it upon himself to knock off the world beating Indians.
His 242 at the Adelaide Oval was excellent, but Australia still lost the Test. Fortunately, and somewhat incredibly, he bettered that effort in Melbourne with a career best 257.
It was the best innings of his Test career, and helped Australia secure the win.
The knock continued his love affair with the ground, where he terrorised countless attacks from across the globe.
Just to prove the two innings weren't a fluke, Ponting went on to score 706 runs at an average of 100.85.
Ricky Ponting's decision to retire from Test cricket ...
This poll ended on 06 December 2012.
... has come at the right time. - 38%
... should have happened sooner. - 38%
... should have only happened after the Ashes Series in England. - 23%
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
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