At a news conference, Ponting laid out his reasoning for retiring with no more emotion than an accountant assessing company books. His 168th test, against South Africa starting Friday in Perth, will be his last.
"If you look back over the last twelve or eighteen months, I haven't been able to perform consistently. I've had, you know, moments of really good stuff and I've had moments, prolonged moments, of cricket that's been below my expectations," he said. "It's just been a buildup of, in my own eyes, I guess, reasonably consistent failure."
Brutally blunt and sure of himself, it was pure Ponting.
Without wading too deep into national stereotypes, his rugged toughness sometimes seemed to epitomize Australia, or at least its passion for sport, an issue of vital national importance to many there, perhaps less weighty than death, but not by much, especially when playing the English.
For taking cricket so very, very seriously, but never making it look like it hurt, Ponting will be missed.
John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at)ap.org or follow him at http://twitter.com/johnleicester
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