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Volume 6 No. 213

People and Pop Culture

Australia's RICKY PONTING announced his retirement from int'l cricket on Thursday, telling a "stunned" news conference that "he would be calling time on his glittering 17-year career after this week's third test against South Africa," according to Nick Mulvenney of REUTERS. The former Australia captain "has scored 13,366 runs in 167 tests -- the second highest haul in the long history of the game -- and stands behind only the great DON BRADMAN in the ranks of Australian batsmen." Ponting, who turns 38 next month, said, "A few hours ago I let the boys know of my decision to make this test my last. It's a decision I thought long and hard about. It was based on my output and my results in this series so far. It hasn't been what I expect of myself and certainly not the level required of a batsman in the Australia team." He stressed the decision "had not been prompted by the selectors," and said that "it was not hard to miss out on one final Ashes contest next year because he realised he was not good enough to get there." Ever the arch-competitor, Ponting said that "the time to look back over his career would come after the Perth match, which starts on Friday and where he will equal STEVE WAUGH's Australian record of 168 tests." Ponting said, "As I said to the boys this morning, I'm hungrier than ever, and I want this win probably more than any other game I've played. If we get back to the top of the tree, to the top of the world, there's no better time for me to bow out" (REUTERS, 11/29).

LAST HURRAH: In Sydney, Chris Barrett reported the third test match against South Africa will be "the last hurrah for Australia's greatest batsman since Bradman." Ponting said, "I know I've given cricket my all. It's been my life for 20 years. There is not much more that I can give.'' Ponting told Australian captain MICHAEL CLARKE and coach MICKEY ARTHUR "privately that he did not want to hang around simply to pass Waugh's mark, or to be afforded a testimonial in his native Tasmania" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 11/30). Also in Sydney, Peter Lalor reported Ponting and his teammates "wept at the team hotel as he told them the news, but the former Australian captain was dry-eyed and as uncompromising as ever as he announced" his retirement. Leading into this test there was talk of long discussions over Ponting's future, "but the all-time great calmed the situation by making the call himself." Ponting said, "I tried to say a lot but I didn't get much out. They'd never seen me emotional before, but I was this morning." Clarke, "clearly upset, replaced Ponting in front of the cameras and attempted to talk about the coming test." When "asked about what it would be like to lose the player who had captained him in his first test, the new skipper lost control." Clarke said, "He's been an amazing player for a long time ... and that'll do me for today" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/30).

"ONE OF THE BEST": In Sydney, Gideon Haigh reported "the only glimpse of Ponting's innermost feelings was a glad one, at the end of the press conference, when he leaned down, smiled broadly and spread his arms for his older daughter, who had been watching the ceremony quietly by her mother's side" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/30). Also in Sydney, Daniel Lane reported Ponting's former teammates gathered to hail him. Waugh "believed Ponting thrived on adversity, MARK WAUGH described him as one of the best he had played alongside," GLENN MCGRATH "paid tribute to a rare determination," JUSTIN LANGER said "he would be forever mentioned alongside Bradman and GREG CHAPPELL" while BRETT LEE likened him to a ''prize-fighter." Lee said, "Coming from that tough, working-class area of his in Tasmania he has that street-fighter mentality, he's a tough character who we saw battle through injury" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 11/30).

DAVID BECKHAM is set to begin negotiations with Ligue 2 side AS Monaco following his final game Saturday in the Major League Soccer Cup final, according to Ben Smith of the BBC. The former England captain has also "attracted interest" from clubs in Russia and Brazil. Beckham plans to make a final decision on his future by the turn of the year. Billionaire Russian businessman DMITRY RYBOLOVLEV bought a majority stake in the club in December with "ambitions to return them to the level they were once at." Monaco -- under the guidance of former Chelsea Manager CLAUDIO RANIERI -- is currently top of the French second division after 15 matches this season (BBC, 11/29).

OPTIONS ON THE TABLE: In London, Simon Rice reported Beckham heading to Ligue 1 Paris St. Germain "has been mooted," while a move to EPL Queens Park Rangers "has been suggested." Beckham trained under QPR Manager HARRY REDKNAPP last season. Beckham said, "I'm lucky because at 37 years old, I've been offered some exciting options." Discussing a return to the Premier League, Beckham said that it was "unlikely, but refused to rule it out." Beckham: "I've always said I think I would struggle to come back and play in England because I've played for the biggest club in the world, the biggest club in England, Manchester United, and I couldn't see myself playing for any other Premiership team. But you never know" (INDEPENDENT, 11/29).

Second Bundesliga club FC Cologne "appointed ALEXANDER WEHRLE as its managing director." The 37-year-old "will assume the duties of exec board members CLAUS HORSTMANN and OLIVER LEKI, who will not extend their expiring contracts" (SID, 11/29). ... German 3rd league football club Alemannia Aachen President MEINO HEYEN "has resigned from his position with immediate effect" (DPA, 11/29).

MANAGERS/COACHES: The Spanish Basketball Federation (FEB) confirmed JUAN ANTONIO ORENGA as the Spanish national team coach after SERGIO SCARIOLO stepped down on Wednesday (REUTERS, 11/28). ... Chinese Basketball Association club Qingdao Eagles fired head coach KANG JUNG-SOO. Kang "had been with the Eagles organization for the last four years." Kang "will be replaced by ZHANG SHIZHANG, who up to this point had been head coach of the Eagles' junior team" (NIUBBALL, 11/29). ... Netball Singapore revealed that national team coach KATE CARPENTER will be stepping down from her post due to personal reasons at the end of the year. Carpenter spent seven successful year with Netball Singapore (Netball Singapore). ... Kontinental Hockey League club SKA St. Petersburg has "signed an 18-month deal with Finnish national team head coach JUKKA JALONEN." The news comes a few days after the club's previous coach MILOS RIHA "was given his marching orders" despite SKA sitting atop the KHL Western Conference (RUSSIA TODAY, 11/29). ... J-League second-division JEF United Chiba Manager TAKASHI KIYAMA "will step down at the end of the season" after failing to bring the club back up to the top flight. Kiyama will, however, "remain in charge through Chiba's Emperor's Cup campaign" (KYODO, 11/29). ... K-League Daegu FC "has chosen to not renew a contract" with Brazilian head coach MOACIR PEREIRA as its season nears the end. The club is currently in 10th place in the 16-team league. The team has promoted assistant coach DANG SEONG-JOUNG as the interim manager (KOREA JOONGANG DAILY, 11/30).

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Austrian energy drink Red Bull co-Owner DIETRICH MATESCHITZ "has reportedly provided F1 driver SEBASTIAN VETTEL with an early contract extension until '16." Red Bull Motorsports Dir HELMUT MARKO "denied the reports." Marko said, "Sebastian has a bullet-proof contract with us until 2014. That is the current status" (OE24, 11/28). ... French slalom canoeist and three-time Olympic Gold medalist TONY ESTANGUET has announced he is retiring (SPORT 24, 11/29). ... F1 driver BRUNO SENNA "is close to signing" with the Force India team for the '13 season (TAZIO, 11/29). ... Disgraced former FIFA Exec Committee member for Brazil RICARDO TEIXEIRA, "who was exposed for taking bribes from the body's now dufunct former marketing partner ISL, has retired to Miami" (London DAILY MAIL, 11/29). ... The Williams F1 Team revealed that PASTOR MALDONADO and VALTTERI BOTTAS will be the team's race drivers for the '13 season. The upcoming season will be Maldonado's third with the team. Bottas has been the team's test driver since '10 (Williams F1). ... Arsenal Owner STAN KROENKE, "a real estate mogul worth $4B by Forbes' estimate, bought the Broken O Ranch in Montana, U.S. for $132.5M "in cold hard cash." The 124,000 acre farm is one of the largest agricultural operations in the Rocky Mountain West (FORBES, 11/29).

Nominees for the FIFA Ballon d’Or are CRISTIANO RONALDO, Portugal; ANDRES INIESTA, Spain; and LIONEL MESSI, Argentina, while the candidates of the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year are MARTA, Brazil; ALEX MORGAN, U.S.; and ABBY WAMBACH, U.S. The candidates for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football are VICENTE DEL BOSQUE, Spain (Spain); PEP GUARDIOLA, Spain (FC Barcelona); and JOSÉ MOURINHO, Portugal (Real Madrid). And the candidates for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women's Football are BRUNO BINI, France (France); NORIO SASAKI, Japan (Japan); and PIA SUNDHAGE, Sweden (U.S.) (FIFA). ... Japan's SHINJI KAGAWA won the inaugural Asian Football Confederation Int'l Player of the Year award. The 23-year-old, who currently plays for ManU, was up against Japan teammate YUTO NAGATOMO of Inter Milan and Australia's veteran goalkeeper MARK SCHWARZER of EPL club Fulham (REUTERS, 11/29).

English professional golfer IAN POULTER: "Just in the gym warming the body up for 1st round of Tiger World Challenge. Been up since 4.30 oh joy of jet lag."'s FRANCO PANIZO: "Phone being used as recorder rings on table in front of Beckham, who joked about answering b4 saying he couldn't because it was not Samsung."

Indian cricketer SURESH RAINA: "Congratulations Ricky Ponting for an incredible career. The most successful skipper n brilliant batsman. Wish legends could stay forever"

Australia's Channel 9 presenter KEN SUTCLIFFE: "Writing story on Ricky Ponting's test career for tonights much material,just can't get it all in..just want to do him justice."

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