IF RICKY Ponting's international record was stunning, the Sheffield Shield career that could end this week is nothing short of astonishing.
Ponting will line up for a 70th Shield match for Tasmania when the team attempts to sneak into the final with a win over Victoria at Bellerive.
The former Test captain's 69 matches so far have yielded 26 centuries and 21 half-centuries at an average of 61.34.
At Bellerive, his average is 67.48.
At Test level, Ponting averaged an imperial 51.85 in 168 matches with 41 hundreds.
The Tasmanian hierarchy is unsure whether the 38-year-old will extend his stay but is hopeful off-season stints in the Indian Premier League and with English county side Surrey will dovetail into another state campaign.
"I'm no wiser as to what he wants to do next year," Tigers' captain George Bailey said yesterday.
"Obviously he's going to play a lot of cricket over winter. We'd certainly love to have him back and we've expressed that as often as we can."
Ponting pulled the plug on his international career in December and has since warmed to the Twenty20 game with the Hobart Hurricanes and topped the Shield run-scoring list with 685 at 85.62.
He will have his mind firmly on the one trophy missing from his cabinet, a competition win with Tasmania.
The match could also be the last for Tigers coach Tim Coyle, who will move on at season's end.
The state's most successful coach, Coyle guided Tasmania to its first Shield title in 2006-07, another in 2010-11 and two one-day cups.
Bailey said preparation for the match was business as usual despite the possibility of high profile departures.
"If you start getting too sentimental or worrying about those things before the time is appropriate, then you lose your focus," he said.
First-placed Victoria and the fourth- placed Tigers both need outright wins, the Bushrangers to ensure their spot in the final and Tasmania to be a chance of sneaking in.
International bowler Clint McKay (foot) has been replaced by Ryan Sidebottom in the Bushrangers' squad.