Sydney - Prime Minister Julia Gillard has paid Ricky Ponting one of the highest tributes in the Aussie vernacular, describing the resigning Australia cricket captain as "a great bloke".
Gillard led a stream of tributes for the 36-year-old Ponting, who announced the end of his nine-year reign as Australia's captain while saying he intended to continue as a player.
The Prime Minister said she phoned Ponting on Tuesday, and told him he deserved the highest praise for a career in which he led Australia to a record 48 Test wins.
"To play that kind of role for Australia is an enormous privilege
and I know from talking to Ricky today that he has felt that
privilege," Gillard said.
"He's our greatest batsman after
(Don) Bradman...I think all of us would wish him well in whatever he
chooses to do for the balance of his life.
"He's still a very
young man but many, many accolades are going to flow in the direction
of Ricky Ponting today and in the coming days, and let me lend my voice
to congratulate a great bloke and fantastic cricketer."
The premier of Ponting's home state of Tasmania, Lara Giddings, said
criticism of his captaincy in recent weeks had been "harsh and
"Ricky Ponting is an all-time great of the
game," Giddings said.
"Criticism of Ricky's leadership in recent
weeks has been harsh and unjustified, and I am pleased he was able to
answer the critics by scoring a masterful century against India in the
World Cup quarterfinal."
Former England captain Michael
Vaughan tweeted "Respect to Ricky Ponting. Never easy giving up
something that you love doing. Lots of runs still in him though.
Current Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin praised Ponting's consistency.
best thing about Ricky Ponting is no matter how he's going or how he's
feeling personally, his involvement in the team and his demeanor and
everything around the group doesn't change," Haddin said.
"He's a very consistent personality and he's a very consistent leader."
opinion of Australian cricket fans on Ponting's departure and legacy
was divided, as reactions to his leadership have been throughout his
While some praised Ponting and regretted the end of an era,
others welcomed his departure and the potential rejuvenation of the
In an online forum, a contributor identified
only as Greg remarked: "Ponting has been one of the toughest, flintiest
captains and a batsman who...was feared by all and sundry when in his
"Joe" expressed another common view.
captain he was only ever as good as his team was," he said. "(It was)
the team he inherited that made him a great captain because great
"With retirements and the depleting skills pool
within the Australian cricket team, his true captaincy abilities became
apparent. In reality he was a poor captain who had a good team that was
At the same time, an online poll conducted by the
Sydney Morning Herald asked whether Michael Clarke was the right man to
succeed Ponting. Of more than 18,000 respondents, 74 percent opposed