Former Australian captain and all-time great Ricky Ponting, a.k.a. “Punter,” has announced his retirement from international cricket, having amassed nearly 27,500 runs and 71 centuries at a very, very healthy average. Ponting was a hard man to warm to: he was driven and extremely competitive and that didn’t make him beloved by fans. But then he had to be tough, given that he took over the captaincy with Australia in the ascendant. He was the first man ever to be in a side that won over 100 Test matches, which is an astonishing record (it also shows how much cricket is played these days).
For all his brashness, Ponting’s record is unassailable and his commitment to his team and country beyond question. In 2005 and 2009, when Australia toured England and lost the Ashes twice, he was treated abominably by the England fans. If the eyes narrowed and his jaw clenched that much more, who could blame him? In his day, he was a peerless master of batting, and in his honor, here is one of his signature shots: the pull. It requires incredible balance and lightning quick reactions. It was because he was losing both that he decided to retire before he was pushed out, which gives a glimpse of his formidable discipline and relentless professionalism.