Illawarra in-laws pay tribute to Ponting 

Bulli's Leanne Cantor spent yesterday nervously keeping herself busy at work, already aware of the news which would rock the cricket world.

If the name doesn't ring a bell, then her son-in-law's certainly will.

Before Leanne's daughter Rianna - the wife of retiring Test great Ricky Ponting - flew out to Perth for the third Test against South Africa, they shed a few tears during a telephone conversation on Wednesday night.

It was then Rianna informed her Ponting would play his 168th and final Test starting today, ending a career which has produced 41 centuries and more than 13,000 runs, at an average of 58.74, since his debut in 1995.

MORE: Ricky Ponting retires from Test cricket

Yesterday afternoon Ponting held a press conference to make the announcement, following a South African series which has produced just 20 runs for Ponting in three innings.

"It's been a hard, emotional day," Leanne told the Mercury from her Bulli home yesterday.

"I was pretty nervous all day, just knowing Ricky would announce his retirement and how he and Rianna were feeling. I wasn't able to tell anyone either.

"We're all very proud of him and of Rianna; they've been through a lot together and we just hope he can finish in Perth with a big score and a win."

Ponting has travelled the world as the former Australian captain and a batsman who will be remembered in the calibre of Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Jacques Kallis.

But on the odd occasion, Ponting, who turns 38 on December 19, has been able to regard the Illawarra as something of a second home.

Ponting was a conspicuous member of the crowd at the University of Wollongong graduation ceremony in 2003, when Rianna completed an arts and law degree.

He's also teed up at the Wollongong Golf Club.

The eyes of the Illawarra and the nation were glued to televisions yesterday, as Ponting revealed his time was up.

"I cried when I found out," Leanne said.

"It's the end of the era and he's given the family and Australia such a lot of pleasure watching him. I'm very proud of him for their contribution and for their work with charity."

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