WHEN Ricky Ponting started his cricket career a man had one club, one state and one country. But the world has changed so much that Ponting, after retiring from Test cricket, will have one last, exotic lap of the globe in which he will play for four different teams in four different countries this year.
When his commitments with Tasmania finish he will head to India for an IPL stint as captain of the Mumbai Indians. Then it's off to English county Surrey for two months before a four-week sojourn in the Caribbean Premier League, when he is expected to be based in T&T.
This has raised the prospect of another season with Tasmania, for whom he has shown such dedication that he has often flown from Sydney to Hobart this season just for training since his Test career finished.
His teammates have always said he was a cricket junkieónow he will prove it. "I have given it (his future) a lot of thought," Ponting said during his visit to Brisbane for a Sheffield Shield match against Queensland last week.
"There is plenty for me to continue next season but I won't know until the end of the Shield season (whether I will play on next season). I will wait and see how much I enjoy the three stints I have coming up before making a decision.
"The fact that I have played IPL and am going to Surrey for a couple of months. I am playing the Caribbean Premier League after that. That takes me back to the start of next season and almost the start of the Australian season next year.
"What I was always worried about was if I had a long break whether I would be able to put myself through a long pre-season it might be hard to get back up to play state cricket again but I really enjoy it."
Since retiring from Test cricket Ponting's career has made several quirky pit-stops such as his old club in Launceston, Mowbray, for whom he made a recent cameo and was even playfully put on the covers roster. "Nothing has changed back there, that is for sure," he said. "I slotted back in as if I was 13-years-old again. There must have been 700 or 800 people turn up. It was awesome. It was tough work playing on the grade wickets. I batted for about an hour and half for 11. It was a bit more difficult than I wanted it to be.
"I just put my head down and walked off. I was trying to do the right thing and bat for a long time but I should have been out there slogging and scoring runs as quickly as I could. I ended up getting a big score in the Shield game the next week, so it was worth it."
Ponting may have played his last match at the Gabba and he leaves with a connection that stretches beyond his remarkable record of 1335 runs at 63 from 17 Tests at the ground. The Gabba Test at the start of the summer was always his favourite Test of the season.
His contribution to the ground was also significant as a silent heavyweight ally for Queensland Cricket boss Graham Dixon in the fight against drop-in wickets. "I actually met with him a few times about that," Ponting said.
"He wanted my backing on leaving the wicket as it was and not having drop-ins here. I have never been for it. I have been pretty vocal in support of leaving the grounds as they are all around Australia. Adelaide is going back to drop-ins next year with the footy and hopefully that will not change too much."