A visibly emotional Ricky Ponting admitted that he had dreamed of a fairytale finish to his 168-game Test career at the WACA on Monday.
The former skipper managed just eight runs in his final innings as Australia were bowled out for 322, losing the third Test by 309 runs and going down to a second successive home series defeat at the hands of South Africa in the process.
"In my own mind I knew it was the right time to be walking away," Ponting told reporters.
"I just had a bit more of a fairytale ending in my own eyes than what's happened this week.
"We haven't got the result that we were after and I haven't got the result that I was after and I've been so wrapped up in the moment and in the game that I haven't had time to think about anything else other than trying to get some runs."
Holding his eldest daughter in his arms during the first part of the press conference, the 37-year-old paid tribute to his family and insisted that his decision to call time on his Test career is the right one.
"It's been a long, tough week," he said.
"I know I've been more nervous in this game than any other game that I've played, just for the reason of how much it means to me to play for Australia and wanting to finish it in the right way.
"It's also been a special week.
"Having my whole family here has been great. I've had great support from them, the fans and my team-mates.
"I haven't been able to deal with the pressure as well of late as I would have liked to.
"Normally when those big moments have come around and I've been under pressure, I've been able to find something within to go out and score runs and make it all go away.
"But I haven't been able to do that for a while now and that was when the alarm bells started to ring."
Ponting was also deeply touched by the sight of the South Africans forming a guard of honour to welcome him when he headed out to the crease.
"That caught me by surprise," he said.
"Graeme (Smith) and the South African boys' gesture, that will remain with me forever and I told them that on the field today.
"So that was special.
"I was pretty pumped up for the moment.
"I felt that there was one last big push from me and the game and the day were set up for it, but it didn't last long enough.
"But even being at the crease for 20-odd balls today, it was a pretty special time.
"It would just have been nice to have a few more next to my name coming off."
In terms of the outcome of the series, the outgoing legend felt it boiled down simply to the Proteas taking their chances and the Australians failing to take theirs.
"Just one bad day in the series has cost us the series," he said. "And cost us the chance to get to number one in the world which is something we'd worked so hard to try and do.
"But that's Test cricket.
"You've got to take your opportunities when they present themselves.
"We had those in Adelaide and if we'd taken them, I might have a different feeling sitting here right now."
The former Australia skipper singled out Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara as the greatest batsmen he had come up against and Curtly Ambrose and Wasim Akram as the best bowlers he had faced and revealed that camaraderie is what he expects to miss most about the game.
"I'll miss the mateship and I'll miss the dressing room," he said.
"That's the stuff that's irreplaceable in your life, I guess.
"There's a lot of guys that I'm very close to, although the upside is that a lot of the other guys that I was very close to over the years aren't in the dressing room either now, so I'll get to spend more time with them."
And when asked how he hopes to be remembered, Ponting's reply was a humble one.
"I've been pretty blessed to play in an era with so many great batsmen and if my name gets mentioned amongst them, then that's great," he said.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 04 December, 2012 8:33AM AEST