Ricky Ponting's 17-year career comes to an end with a whimper

Ricky Ponting

Ricky Ponting's celebrated test career came to a close with a whimper rather than a bang on Monday when he was dismissed for eight runs to leave his beloved Australia heading for almost certain defeat against South Africa.

The 37-year-old former Australia captain, the second highest run scorer in test cricket, said on the eve of his 168th match that it would be his last and he had hoped to go out on a high with a series win against the Proteas.

Those hopes had been dashed by two days of brilliant cricket from the best test side in the world, which left Australia chasing 632 runs over the last two days of the match to secure an unlikely victory.

Welcomed to the crease at 11.

46am local time (0346 GMT) by a guard of honour of applauding South African players, Ponting shook hands with Proteas captain Graeme Smith before tamping down the wicket with his bat.

The 37-year-old offered defensive shots and left one of the first five deliveries he faced before pouncing on the sixth with a vintage pull shot to propel the ball to the square leg boundary.

It was a rare flash of the Ponting who had dominated bowlers on so many occasions since he scored 96 runs on debut against Sri Lanka at the same WACA ground 17 years ago.

There was another with a second four, a drive to mid-on which reached the boundary courtesy of a misfield from Morne Morkel, but the end, when it came, was a soft dismissal unworthy of such a great batsman.

With lunch looming, he tried to cut South African spinner Robin Peterson but only managed to get a thick edge onto the ball which ended up in the safe hands of Jacques Kallis at slip.

Kallis with 44 and India's Sachin Tendulkar (51) are the only batsmen to have scored more test centuries than the Tasmanian's 41.

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