Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting called time on his 17-year Test career, announcing that this week's clash against South Africa in Perth will be his last.
"This Test will be my last," he said at a hastily-called press conference on Thursday, adding that he will continue to play for Tasmania in the domestic competition this summer.
Ponting, who turns 38 next month, has failed in three innings against the Proteas during draws in Brisbane and Adelaide and pressure has been building on the veteran ahead of Friday's series decider in Perth.
Perth will be a fitting conclusion to a remarkable career.
It is where he debuted against Sri Lanka in 1995 and by playing Friday he will equal Steve Waugh's mark of 168 Test matches -- the most in the history of Australian cricket.
After being made Australian captain in 2004, the right-hander went onto become one of the country's greatest cricketers.
The Tasmanian, who has 13,366 Test runs to his name -- including 41 centuries with only Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar scoring more -- said he knew it was time to call it a day.
Australian Ricky Ponting announces his retirement from Test cricket during a press conference on the eve of the third Test with South Africa. The Test, which starts on Friday, will be his last, the former skipper said. Ponting, who turns 38 next month, has failed in three innings against the Proteas.
"Over the last couple of weeks my level of performance hasn't been good enough," said Ponting, who had already been dumped from the one-day and Twenty20 international squads.
"My passion and love for the game hasn't changed but at the end of the day (the decision) was based on my results.
"In this series so far they have not been up to the level required of batsmen and players in the Australian team.
"I'm glad I have got the opportunity to finish on my terms."
An emotional Michael Clarke, the current captain, said Ponting would be sorely missed and his announcement took him by surprise.
"I didn't have a feeling it was coming," he said of his friend and mentor. "Ricky spoke to me after Adelaide and obviously made his decision over the last few days.
Australian batsman Ricky Ponting (R) looks back as he leaves the field after being dismissed for no runs by South African bowler Morne Morkel on day three of the first Test at the Gabba ground in Brisbane on November 11, 2012.
"The boys (team) are obviously hurting right now. He's been an amazing player for a long time."
Clarke added that the announcement would only fire up the side to win the third Test, where the number one ranking in Test cricket will be on the line.
"It will only give us more inspiration," said Clarke as he fought back tears.
In a statement, Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland described Ponting as one of the best players ever to pad up for his country.
"Ricky has had an extraordinary career and has made an extraordinary contribution, including through the example he has set for other elite players and through the excitement he has given fans, young and old," he said.
"I think his record until he retired as captain was outstanding but my respect for him since then has actually increased, seeing first-hand how he stepped back to become a total team player."