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Damien Souness: Did Ponting exit one Test too soon?

Sportal December 14, 2012, 8:31 pm

You can't help but wonder how Ricky Ponting would have fared had he postponed his retirement for a hometown farewell in the opening Test against Sri Lanka.

Ponting, whose 17-year Test career came to an end against South Africa in Perth earlier this month, reportedly baulked at the chance to say goodbye in Hobart because he did not want to take away from the career of Steve Waugh.

The 37-year-old joined Waugh as Australia's most capped Test player with 168 matches in Perth and felt it would be unbecoming to advance one Test past the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame member.

Instead, the selfless Ponting, flanked by cricketers from his home club of Mowbray in Launceston, enjoyed a lunchtime farewell lap at Blundstone Arena on Friday, where the Tasmanian cricket faithful would have undoubtedly loved to have seen at least one more innings from the man they call 'Punter'.

Australia powered to 4-299 on the opening day of the Hobart Test, with Phil Hughes marking his return to the side with a solid 86 against a Sri Lanka outfit that failed to make best use of the pace-friendly conditions on offer.

Ponting made 581 runs at 64.56 in Hobart and amassed 975 runs at 46.43 against Sri Lanka, but told Channel Nine he had no regrets about his decision to bow out in Perth, where he was dismissed for just four and eight.

"As we all know things came to an end for me last week, so to be here in a different capacity today is good fun," Ponting said.

"I'm excited about this next little phase of my life, all my family here and a lot of my club-mates have even made it down for the game - they probably bought all their tickets weeks ago thinking I was going to be playing, but unfortunately I'm here as a spectator with them today.

"I generally get a little bit embarrassed when people start talking about me, and even having a whole lunch break in a Test match dedicated to me today is a little bit more than what I would have expected as well.

"But the reason it's here is for me to come and say goodbye to the Hobart fans and people of Tasmania who have looked after me so well over a long period of time."

Ponting, who will play out the rest of the season with Tasmania in addition to a Big Bash stint with the Hobart Hurricanes, said he was unsure when he would walk away from domestic duties but admitted he had quickly become accustomed to a more relaxed lifestyle.

"I'm actually missing a training session so it's not that bad," Ponting said as the Hurricanes prepared to face Shane Warne's Melbourne Stars at the MCG on Saturday.

"The boys are over in Melbourne training at the moment, so I'd rather be here I think."

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