Ricky Ponting, who on Thursday called an end to a glittering Test match career, is Australia's all-time leading Test batsman and most successful captain.
'Punter' Ponting turns 38 next month and admits time has caught up with him.
He stumbled badly in his last three innings
against South Africa during recent draws in Brisbane and Adelaide.
There were calls for the 167-Test veteran to step down ahead of Friday's series decider in Perth, which will be his final Test.
Ponting will go out in style at the WACA, equalling Steve Waugh's mark of 168 Test matches -- the most in the history of Australian cricket.
The Tasmanian -- who can boast 41 centuries, with only Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar scoring more -- said he knew the time had come.
"Over the last couple of weeks my level of performance hasn't been good enough," he admitted.
"My passion and love for the game hasn't changed but at the end of the day (the decision) was based on my results.
Ponting has won more Tests as captain with 48 than any other Australian and has an astonishing success rate of almost 72 percent as the country's one-day leader, winning 164 of his 228 games.
Australian Test cricketer Ricky Ponting announces his retirement during a press conference on the eve of the third cricket Test between South Africa and Australia in Perth. AFP
He had already called a halt on his captaincy of the Test and one-day team in March last year, but continued as a player.
Despite skippering Australia in more than 300 Test and one-day matches, taking over from Steve Waugh, his magnificent innings were blighted by three Ashes series losses as captain. They say
Nicknamed Punter by Shane Warne for his penchant for a bet (punt) on the greyhounds, Ponting has amassed 13,366 runs in 167 Tests at 52.21, and 13,704 runs in 375 one-day internationals.
As captain he oversaw a painful transition in Australian cricket in the wake of several high-profile retirements, including Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer.
But even with such greats in the ranks, Ponting, as captain, lost the 2005 Ashes in England. Despite engineering a 5-0 revenge in the ensuing home series in 2006/07, he again lost in 2009 and 2010/11.
That last failure was badly received in Australia -- it was their first Ashes loss at home for 24 years and followed a series of defeats by Ponting-led teams.
Australia lost a home series against South Africa for the first time in 2008/09 and a two-match series in India in 2010.
Born the eldest of four children in the working-class Tasmanian suburb of Mowbray, Ricky Thomas Ponting was influenced to play cricket by his uncle Greg Campbell, who played Tests for Australia in 1989 and 1990.
Ponting went on to make his state debut at 17, the youngest player to represent Tasmania in the domestic Sheffield Shield competition, before making his international one-day debut aged 20 in 1995.
He only scored one against South Africa in his first match but went on to become one of cricket's batting titans, with his Test debut coming 10 months later in December against Sri Lanka in Perth.
Ponting had a rocky beginning in the public eye and was banned for three matches in 1999 by the (then) Australian Cricket Board following an early-morning brawl in a Sydney bar.
He had been disciplined for a previous off-field incident.
A contrite Ponting, with a blackened eye, gave a press conference the next day to apologise, but he matured into a valued mentor in the Australian team over time.
His fierce competitiveness also brought him trouble. He was reprimanded by the International Cricket Council for damaging a dressing room television in an angry reaction to being run out against Zimbabwe at the World Cup in India.
Married with two children, he is known as a campaigner against cancer and established The Ponting Foundation with his wife Rianna to raise money for young Australians afflicted by the disease.
Highest score: 257
Highest score: 164
(With inputs from AFP)