Ricky Ponting, the most successful captain in 134 years of Test cricket, resigned as the Australian Test and one-day skipper on Tuesday but aims to continue playing the game at the highest level.
The 36-year-old had led Australia in one day internationals since 2002 and Tests since 2004, a period encompassing his country's absolute domination of world cricket and steady decline after the retirement of some top players.
With Cricket Australia under pressure to sack him in the wake of a home Ashes defeat to England and a quarterfinal exit at the World Cup, the tough Tasmanian decided to fall on his sword. "I've had the chance to think long and hard about it and today I've decided to stand down as captain of the Test team and the one-day team as of now," he told a news conference at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
He will almost certainly be replaced by Michael Clarke on Wednesday.
"I think the timing was absolutely perfect," he said. "I wanted to make sure that the person coming in had as much time as possible to get themselves prepared and get their focus on where they want the team to go." Ponting denied he had jumped before being pushed.Australia won 48 of 77 Tests and 164 of 228 ODIs, including two World Cups, under Ponting. No other captain has won as many games in either form.
Admired but rarely loved in Australia, Ponting admitted that his tenure as his country captain would probably be remembered by some for the three Ashes series losses he oversaw.
"It's funny how we talk about losing the Ashes three times," he said. "Playing on three World Cup winning teams doesn't come up very often, winning 16 consecutive Tests doesn't come up very much, winning 30-odd consecutive World Cup matches doesn't come up very often. I know within myself... what I've achieved in the game and I'm very proud of it."