Worcester: Australia captain Ricky Ponting said on Tuesday he was taken aback by former England skipper Michael Vaughan's decision to retire from cricket.
Vaughan, England's Ashes winning captain in 2005 when Ponting was his opposite number, called time on his professional career with immediate effect earlier on Tuesday.
The 34-year-old batsman made the decision to quit after failing to win a place in England's 16-man Ashes training squad ahead of next week's first Test against Australia in Cardiff.
Ponting, who will lead Australia in a four-day warm-up match against the England Lions here at New Road starting on Wednesday, was convinced his old rival still had an international future ahead of him.
"I must admit I am a bit surprised by his retirement," Ponting said. "It is only a couple of months ago that I was thinking he might be named in the first Test squad by England. I thought he might have a bit more to offer international cricket somewhere down the line.
"With him being a contracted player, I thought there was a chance he might have found himself back in the Ashes squad. But Ravi Bopara came in and grabbed his opportunity with both hands.
"I guess it just goes to show with a few of the younger guys coming into the England set-up and grabbing their opportunity, he might have felt his time might have passed."
Ponting added: "Michael was an exceptionally skilled and talented player whose record would stack up against most top order batsmen who have played international cricket.
"He was a distinguished captain who led the side very well. Good luck with what he does after cricket. He was always a highly respected and skilled opponent."
England batsman Paul Collingwood, now set for another tilt at Australia, played in the final Test of the 2005 series where a draw helped the hosts win their first Ashes campaign in 18 years.
"He's going be a huge miss - his contribution to English cricket as a whole over the last decade has been phenomenal," Collingwood said of Vaughan.
"He's a great personal friend of mine and just a great bloke, a team man and always someone you could go up and talk to.
"He'd deal with you in a jovial, light-hearted way and the players went out relaxed and enjoyed themselves. He's a great man and will be sorely missed around the team."
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