Ricky Ponting raised both arms to all parts of the WACA Ground and said farewell to cricket.
His last Test innings of eight was all too brief, and came to a sad end three minutes before lunch. He lingered a few moments on the ground, arms raised, as the crowd stood and acknowledged his greatness and South Africa's players, led by captain Graeme Smith ran to him and applauded him from the field.
Ponting's career came to an end on 13,378 Test runs at an average of 51.85, 40 minutes after he walked through a South African guard of honour that captured the respect in which Ponting is held by his opponents.
Smith, who regards Ponting as the most competitive man he has ever played against, ran to him and shook his hand as he prepared to face spinner Robin Peterson. The modest left-arm orthodox spinner ended up being the villian of the occasion, but there were at least some moments of vintage Ponting before it was over.
The poignant welcome to the crease for Australia's greatest runscorer recalled that given to Don Bradman in his final Test at the Oval in 1948, when England captain Norman Yardley led three cheers for Bradman as he walked through a tunnel of Englishmen to take guard. The players doffed their caps, then Yardley said to Eric Hollies: 'That's all we'll give him – then bowl him out.'
The pleasantries for Ponting did not last long, either.
He scratched out his mark and the crowd clapped as his first ball from Peterson was driven safely to cover for no run. His final tally of eight runs consisted of two boundaries, and they were good ones. He pounced on a short ball from Morne Morkel, and pulled it from in front of his nose to square leg. An on drive off Dale Steyn made it to the fence, thanks largely to a Morkel misfield.
He took his lingering last stand, then hustled up the steps to the dressing room for the last time.
And then, after 23 balls it was over. The 37-year-old was defeated by the bounce summoned by Peterson and an attempted cut was snaffled by Jacques Kallis at slip.
Australia headed to lunch 3-110, their aspirations to challenge the enormous victory target of 632 severely dented not only by the departure of Ponting but the first-session exits of David Warner and Shane Watson.
Warner was out for 29 with the second ball of the day, edging Vernon Philander to Graeme Smith in the slips. Watson went for 25 in similar fashion, caught by Smith but this time from the bowling of Morne Morkel. Ed Cowan was unbeaten on 37 and was joined by captain Michael Clarke (8 not out).
Name: Ricky Thomas PontingBatting: Right-handBowling: Right-arm mediumDate of birth: December 19, 1974 (Age 37)Major teams: Australia, Tasmania, SomersetTest debut: v Sri Lanka, Perth, December 8, 1995ODI debut : v South Africa, Wellington, February 15, 1995T20 debut : v New Zealand, Auckland, February 17, 2005
Tests: Matches 168, Runs 13,378, Highest 257, Average 51.85, Centuries 41
One-dayers: Matches 375, Runs 13,704, Highest 164, Average 42.03, Strike-rate 80.39, Centuries 30
Twenty20 internationals: Matches 23, Runs 477, Highest 98 not out, Average 23.85, Strike-rate 121.06.