South Africa ruined Ricky Ponting's farewell with an emphatic 309-run victory over Australia in the third test on Monday to clinch the three-match series 1-0 and cement their position at the top of the ICC test rankings.
The former Australia captain was welcomed to the crease with a respectful guard of honor, but there was to be no fitting finale for the second highest run-scorer in Test history.
Having announced his retirement prior to the match Ponting mustered just four in the first innings and fared little better in his last hurrah, thick-edging Robin Peterson to slip three balls before the lunch break at Perth.
Ponting had been hoping to sign off in his 168th test with a victory that would have allowed Australia to leapfrog the Proteas and return to the summit of the game they dominated for so much of his career.
"It's an honour to play one Test match for Australia so I've been lucky to play as many as I have," said Ponting afterwards.
"I've cherished every moment but it was always going to end at some stage."
"[The guard of honour] was unexpected, I was sort of embarrassed and wish it didn't happen that way but it was an amazing gesture by Graeme and the South African team.
"It's not ended the way I would have liked but it's been an amazing week and an amazing 20 years of first class cricket."
Australia, 40-0 overnight, were bowled out for 322 in their second innings and never looked getting anywhere near the victory target of 632 which would have allowed them to leapfrog the Proteas to return to the summit of the game.
David Warner was dismissed by the second ball of the day for his overnight score of 29. Vernon Philander was responsible, sending down a fine delivery that would have threatened off stump had Warner not nicked it to Graeme Smith at first slip.
Ed Cowan hit the first four of the day three balls later but the aim of the day was defence and consolidation as Philander and Dale Steyn sent down a testing opening spell.
Number 3 Shane Watson hit his 12th ball for four, while the circumspect Cowan put away a Steyn full-toss for his second boundary.
Watson found the ropes in three consecutive overs but he was next out for 25 when Morne Morkel squared him up and found the edge to offer Smith a second catch.
That brought Ponting to the crease for the final time and, as well as a warm ovation from the stands, the opposition lined up to form a guard of honour to the wicket.
Ponting stopped to shake hands with Proteas skipper Smith and, after Cowan stole some of the spotlight with a six off Peterson, got off the mark by pulling his sixth delivery for four.
Luck seemed to be on the 37-year-old's side when he was gifted a second boundary, Morkel mis-fielding at mid-on, but that proved his last scoring shot.
Left-arm spinner Peterson got one to bite and bounce outside off stump and Ponting mis-hit an unwise cut straight to the alert Jacques Kallis.
The Proteas clamoured to shake his hand as he departed to plentiful applause before his successor, Michael Clarke, struck the last two balls of the session for four.
AB De Villiers was involved in the next two wickets, stumping Clarke off Peterson for 44 and then catching Michael Hussey off Steyn for 26.
Matthew Wade was joined by all-rounder John Hastings with the home side on 198 for six and South Africa were on the verge of an impressive victory.
Wade went for 10, caught by Smith at short midwicket when he mistimed a Peterson delivery.
Australia ended the session on 204 for seven, with Hastings and Mitchell Johnson battling against the inevitable.
Philander found the edge of Johnson's bat and De Villiers took a regulation catch as Australia failed to add to their total in the first three overs after tea.
Hastings went for a belligerent 20, caught at first slip by Smith off Morkel.
Mitchell Starc also hit out, his 68 off 43 balls including two sixes and nine fours, as he and Nathan Lyon put on a battling 87 for the final wicket.
But they were only putting off the inevitable and after South Africa took the new ball Lyon was finally out for 31 when he was caught at slip by Smith off Steyn.
That left the home side all out for 322 for a 309-run defeat and a 1-0 series loss which confirmed South Africa as the number one ranked Test side.
Listen to Ricky Ponting talk about his final game on our player below.
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