Aussie Parliament suspends business to celebrate Punter’s ‘great career’

Ricky Ponting attracted the universal praise in retirement that sometimes eluded him during his Test cricket career. Australia's Parliament temporarily suspended business on Thursday to pay tribute to Ponting, setting aside weeks of rancor to express bipartisan admiration for one of the nation's finest sportsman. "I'm 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," 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 from the Australian community — full as it is with cricket 'tragics.'"

South Africa captain Graeme Smith said he was initially shocked to hear of Ponting's sudden decision to retire.

"Certainly the most competitive man I've played against,'' Smith said. "The way he played the game and intensity with which he played the game is a credit to him. He's always represented Australia with a lot of dignity and skill."

Ponting was sometimes considered surly by critics if things weren't going Australia's way, but he was respected for his single-minded determination to win. Former captain Ian Chappell said: "He was always prepared to take the attack to the bowlers. Not only a skillful ... batsman, but a very brave one."

'Better than Sachin'

Former England captain Michael Vaughan tweeted: "The best batsman I had the privilege to play against. Punter played better against me than Sachin did.. Both incredible but if I had to pick one it would be Ricky..."

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