Vol. 5 Num 926 Sat. January 06, 2007  

I'm satisfied: Ponting

Ricky Ponting admits he shed a tear as the realisation dawned that three of his long-term teammates -- Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer -- had played their last Test match for Australia.

The Australian captain said his abiding emotion was satisfaction rather than revenge, as his crack side demolished the tourists by 10 wickets before lunch on the fourth day of the final Ashes Test.

It was Australia's first Ashes clean sweep over England since Warwick Armstrong's team's achievement in 1921.

The retirements of the trio of Test greats dominated the final Sydney Test of the series, with Ponting revealing that he urged the team to do their absolute best to send them out as winners.

"It's not so much the end result of the 5-0 series, but probably just the occasion with the three guys finishing up," said Ponting, who was named player-of-the-series.

"I admit I shed a tear out on the ground, and even when we took the last wicket, to think that this would be the last time that we would be walking off the ground with Glenn and Shane.

"I was hoping to get a chance to bat with Langer, I was a bit dirty on Matty Hayden not getting out," he said with a smile.

"To realise that was the last opportunity that I was going to have was a pretty emotional time."

Ponting was decried as the Australian captain who lost the Ashes after England's 2005 triumph, and he has been driving the Australian team throughout this series.

He scored 576 runs in the series at 82.29 with centuries in the opening two Tests.

"I'm very satisfied. Revenge has never come into it. I've never mentioned it once. I couldn't be any more satisfied than I am at the moment," he said.

"For us to play as well as we have in the last two games for the guys who are retiring is something they can be proud of.

"I addressed the team before the Test and said all I wanted was when all of us walked off at the end that we could look the retiring players in the eye and knew we'd done our absolute best for them.

"The 5-0 result is pretty fitting that this group of players achieved that." Ponting described the Ashes series as the one of the best periods of his 11-year cricket career.

"For all the guys to stand up and perform as they have through this period and for myself to make a few runs and feel that I led the side pretty well has been enjoyable.

"I think it's important that we all enjoy today and the moment for what it is."

And Ponting had an eye to a future without McGrath, Warne and Langer when he pulled aside batsman Michael Clarke during the team's post-match walk around the Sydney Cricket Ground to soak up the acclaim.

"I spoke to Michael Clarke around the ground and had a word in his ear about the next era, about what we have coming up, and hopefully for the next few years it will be him and I and (Mike) Hussey to be the leaders and win games for our country.

"I'm looking forward to that period, I see it as a pretty exciting time.

"It's not so much the unknown, because I've got a good feeling about the next crop of players. We had Adam Voges join us in Perth, he's one name that will come up, Shaun Tait, Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus for the bowlers, I'm excited about that

"When you get young players in squad there's excitement around. With the nucleus of this group, it will still be together, and I can see us being a very dominant team."

Ponting has captained Australia in 35 Tests with 27 wins, five draws and three defeats.