Not long after the adoring crowd in Perth gave him a rousing sendoff, Australia's most successful captain was soon back in the pavilion with just eight runs as his side chased an improbable 632 to win the third Test.
But Ponting, who turns 38 this month, will be judged over the course of a stellar career that equalled Steve Waugh's mark of 168 Test matches -- the most in the history of Australian cricket.
His South African opponents gave due recognition as he came out to bat on Monday, lining up to applaud him onto the pitch. But in truth Ponting had failed to fire in the current series, and admitted that his time was up.
In Image: Australia's Ricky Ponting with his wife Rianna and daughters Emmy, second right, and Matisse pose for a photo after South Africa's win in the third cricket test match in Perth, Australia, Monday, Dec. 3, 2012.