Ricky Ponting has attracted the universal praise in retirement that sometimes eluded him during his Test cricket career as friends and old rivals united to pay tribute after the former Australia captain announced he will end his 168-Test career after the match against South Africa in Perth.
Australia’s parliament temporarily suspended business yesterday to pay tribute to Ponting, setting aside weeks of rancor to express bipartisan admiration for one of the nation’s finest sportsman.
“I am sure even in a Parliament ruled with the sort of lack of civility of the opposition we could spend one moment celebrating what has been a great cricketing career,” Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard was quoted as saying. Gillard said Ponting’s retirement meant “he is going to go into the next phase of his life with a lot of gratitude and a lot of thanks from the Australian community — full as it is with cricket ‘tragics.’”
Ponting was sometimes considered surly by fans and critics if things weren’t going Australia’s way, but he was widely respected for his single-minded determination to win.
“The thing I liked about him was that he was always trying to win the game,” former Test captain Ian Chappell said.
“He was always prepared to take the attack to the bowlers,” he said. “He was a very aggressive player, looking to dominate. Not only a skillful ... batsman, but a very brave one.”
Rivals and former teammates were quick to take to social media in praise of Ponting’s contribution to Australian and world cricket.
England batsman Kevin Pietersen was among those praising Ponting, joining thousands who expressed their admiration on social networks to describe his on-field rival as “one of the greats.”
“I always got excited playing Australia, so I could watch him up close,” said the South African-born Pietersen, who is in India playing for England.