Pietersen hails 'great' Ponting
Kevin Pietersen was among the first to pay tribute to Ricky Ponting's wonderful career after the former Australia captain announced he is to retire from Test cricket.
Pietersen, currently on tour with England in India, made his own Test debut against Ponting's Australia in the 2005 Ashes - a series which culminated in a famous home victory.
He voiced his admiration for Ponting on Twitter, signing off with the hashtag #legend to describe the great number three batsman. "Ricky Ponting RETIRES.... ONE OF THE GREATS!" Pietersen wrote. "I always got excited playing AUS, so I could watch him bat up close. Well done Punter!"
Ponting would lose three Ashes series as captain, two in England and one in Australia - and now at the age of 37, he has accepted he will not do battle for the urn again after all.
The Tasmanian will call time on his 17-year international career after the forthcoming Perth Test against South Africa, and will therefore never again face England - against whom Australia will play 10 Ashes Tests in home and away series in 2013 and early 2014.
England wicketkeeper Matt Prior was quick to follow Pietersen's lead, with his own tribute to Ponting - also on Twitter.
"Congrats to Ricky ponting on an amazing career," he said. "One of, if not the, best batsmen I've ever played against and fierce opponent!"
Michael Clarke, Australia's current Test and one-day international captain and Ponting's immediate successor, was taken aback by the veteran's decision to retire - even though it comes after a worrying loss of form at the highest level.
"I didn't have a feeling it was coming," he said. "Ricky spoke to me after [the second Test against South Africa in] Adelaide and obviously made his decision over the last few days.
"The boys are obviously hurting right now. He's been an amazing player for a long time."