Perth - Ricky Ponting has attracted the universal praise in retirement that often eluded him during his Test cricket career as friends and foes alike united to pay tribute after the former Australia captain announced he will end his 168-match Test career after this week's final match against South Africa.
Rivals and former team-mates took to social media on Thursday to praise Ponting's contribution to Australian and world cricket throughout a 17-year career.
Australia's Parliament temporarily suspended business to pay tribute to Ponting, setting aside weeks of rancor to express bipartisan admiration for one of the nation's finest sportsman.
"I am sure even in a parliament ruled with the sort of lack of civility of the opposition we could spend one moment celebrating what has been a great cricketing career," Prime Minister Julia Gillard said.
She said Ponting's retirement meant "he is going to go into the next phase of his life with a lot of gratitude and a lot of thanks from the Australian community - full as it is with cricket 'tragics.'"
Opposition lawmakers set aside recent animosities and joined Gillard in praising Ponting's "superb innings."
"He is undoubtedly one of the all-time greats of one of the very great games," Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott said. "He is someone that I think all young Australians can look up to."
Ponting's retirement even cooled the rivalry between Australia and England for cricket's Ashes which may have been the defining contest of his career. Ponting lost three of the Ashes Test series in which he captained Australia.
England batsman Kevin Pietersen set aside past ill-feeling to praise Ponting, joining thousands who expressed their admiration on social networks to describe his infield rival as "one of the greats. I always got excited playing Australia, so I could watch him up close."
England wicketkeeper Matt Prior said "congrats to Ricky Ponting on an amazing career. One of, if not the best, batsman I ever played against and a fierce opponent."
Current Australian Test opener David Warner tweeted: "has been and outstanding career and will be missed by everyone."