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Page 3 Profile: Ricky Ponting, Australian cricketer

Bowing out gracefully?

He is indeed. The former captain of the Australian cricket team announced his retirement after a spate of poor performances. The batsman, once the scourge of England's bowlers, has scored just 20 runs in the two recent Test matches against South Africa. "I haven't been performing consistently over the last 12 to 18 months," he said. "I believe now is the right time." He said his level "hasn't been what I expect of myself and certainly not the level required of a batsman in the Australia team," adding: "I've given cricket my all, it's been my life for 20 years."

Did he jump, or was he pushed?

"This is a decision not made by the selectors, it was made by me," he said, and a recent statement by his coach Mickey Arthur backs him up. "Ricky has the unanimous backing of the selection panel. We want him to go to the Ashes, there is no doubt," he said. It is thought Ponting's decision to retire at this time is a sage one, as it leaves his legacy intact. Ponting is the second highest run scorer in Test history behind Sachin Tendulkar.

I'm sure there are a few relieved cricketers out there

England fans frequently booed the Tasmanian, who was never afraid to push his luck in an effort to give his team the advantage. But there was an underlying respect. Michael Vaughan said he was the "best batsman I had the privilege to play against", while Andrew Flintoff recalled how at The Oval in 2009, Ponting was hit in the mouth and "just spat out the blood and carried on."

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