There were many symbolic gestures which might have well and truly reflected the greatness of Ricky Ponting, the Australian cricketer finally bid adieu to Test cricket at 37 after 17 years of international cricket featuring 168 Tests (41 centuries) and 375 ODIs (30 tons).
Thanks to the imaginative Channel 9 tv coverage, millions of fans could get a glimpse of those wonderful final moments, though Ponting would have loved to script yet another memorable and final outing there in the middle and not the way he got out cheaply in both the innings of his final Test against South Africa on December 3, 2012.
Incidentally, Perth has been the venue where he made his Test debut in 1995 and scored 96 before being declared lbw in doubtful circumstances.
In the pre-match briefing, captain Michael Clarke was seen struggling to control his emotions when referring to Ponting’s retirement.
Then, the sight of his former illustrious teammate Adam Gilchrist greeting Ponting on arrival for the first day’s play at the WACA and more interestingly spending a few moments with the latter in the dressing room when he was waiting for his turn to bat for one last time in a Test match. For, Gilchrist should know better about his former captain than anyone else.
The standing ovation which Ponting got when he went out to bat was somewhat predictable given his stature. When South Africa was blasting away the Australian attack, Clarke let his former skipper lead in the final session on the third day as a special gesture.
There was an air of expectancy when Ponting went out to bat as Australia was battling with its back to the wall. Again, not an unfamiliar scenario which often saw this wonderful batsman challenge it successfully in the past.
It was a great sight when the South Africans lined up on either side near the wicket to greet Ponting and the visiting captain Graeme Smith stretched out to shake hands and even patted the former when he made his typical strides to the batting crease.
But, this time around, though he looked good and determined to put behind the recent disappointments, Ponting fell for one last time – extra bounce when he went on to the back-foot to left-arm spinner Robin Peterson only to give a catch to another of his contemporary greats Jacques Kallis. Ironically, in recent times, the entire focus in cricketing world has been on Sachin Tendulkar, Ponting and Kallis in terms of their magnificent achievements and the debate is already on about their retirement too. So, Kallis playing his part in the dismissal of Ponting was another symbolic act.
Finally, the most emotional moments which can be easily freezed in memory were when Ponting walked back to the pavilion after yet another failure. Almost every South African player walked across to bid adieu to the great Australian. He responded to the lusty cheers at the venue - taking off his helmet, acknowledging the appreciation, raising his bat for one last time.
Well, the great South African fast bowler Alan Donald (fast bowling coach of his team here) too made it a point to walk across and pat Ponting on the back near the boundary line. Even as his wife Rianna Ponting stood up along with others to welcome him back into the dressing room, Ponting walked through the tunnel to the final destination. When he climbed up the stairs to remove his cricketing gear for one last time, it should have been surely the most difficult ones in his illustrious career.
But as they say, all great careers have to come to an end one day and Ponting is no exception. Thus, quietly fades this cricketer extraordinary into the pages of cricketing history. The giant scoreboard at WACA said it all – Thanks Ricky.