SYDNEY // Australia captain Ricky Ponting has quit Twenty20 international cricket so he can prolong his career in the Test and limited-overs formats. The 34-year-old Ponting skipped two T20 internationals in England to return home following Australia's Ashes Test series loss to England last month. He made his announcement about T20 cricket today, ahead of his return flight to England for the end of the seven-match ODI series. "The last 10 or 12 days for me have been a lot about reflection, looking back to the Ashes and looking forward to my playing future," said Ponting, Australia's leading runscorer in Test and one-day cricket. "As of today I've decided to retire from international Twenty20 cricket. The decision I've made is all to do with my longevity in the game."
The recent trend has been for older players to retire from Test cricket to take up lucrative T20 contracts. It is expected he will remain contracted to Kolkata in the Indian Premier League, which is classified as a domestic T20 tournament despite its array of star players from around the world. "I have also spoken to Andrew Hilditch, Tim Nielsen and Michael Clarke and I feel this decision provides me the opportunity to prolong my Australian Test and one-day career, an opportunity I am extremely determined about," Ponting said. "I am hoping to continue playing Test cricket for as long as possible and retiring from the Twenty20 format gives me the best chance of doing this."
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said he understood the reasons behind Ponting's decision to quit Twenty20. "Needless to say he will be a huge loss to the Twenty20 side, but it does present opportunities for the other players and leaders within Australian cricket to gain further experience," Sutherland said. Cricket Australia said a decision regarding Ponting's replacement as captain of the Twenty20 side will be made later in the year. Michael Clarke led Australia in Ponting's absence in England. Australia's next Twenty20 International will be held Feb 5 against T20 world championship winner Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Ponting has played 136 Test matches for Australia, scoring 38 centuries, behind only India's Sachin Tendulkar, who has 42. He has scored 11,345 Test runs at an average of 55.88. He has also played 315 limited-overs matches, scoring 11,523 runs at an average of 42.52.