Aurora roars its thanks

IF THERE was one word to describe Ponting's final tribute last night it would be roaring.

A roaring success, and a roaring crowd in admiration.

A record 17,771 fans piled through Aurora Stadium's gates last night to pay tribute and show their appreciation to the Mowbray boy who grew up to be one of Australia's greatest cricketers. 

Many attended the game early to ensure they got one of the hundreds of Ponting polo tops and T-shirts from the merchandise stand, which was kept busy well into the start of the Twenty20 encounter.

A roaring Mexican wave - that circulated the ground twice - saw the match start with Team Gilchrist first to bat.

Andrew Keegan, of Youngtown, was the first to catch a ball in the crowd, but he wasn't sure if it was much of a catch.

``It was more of a chest mark,'' said the 30-year-old, who was sitting at the city end of the ground.

He said it wasn't much of a contest to catch the ball as his mates Nathan Murfet, of Legana, and Adam Youd, of Riverside, didn't bother trying.

``I thought I'd let my mate take the glory,'' Mr Murfet said.

The three were lucky enough to book a seat early, as all seating sold out weeks ago.

Aurora Stadium general manager Robert Groenewegen said there had been a great response to the match.

``We've been blown away with people's response right from the start and the night's turned out beautifully,'' Mr Groenewegen said.

``We hope to have some more cricket (next season).

``I don't think we'll have another Ricky Ponting tribute game . . . but we're just waiting and hoping that we can get some more big cricket.''

Cricket at Aurora has been played on a drop-in wicket, which proved its worth for big matches last night.

``It's played OK and everyone seems to be hitting a few good ones,'' Mr Groenewegen said.

``It all goes to show that we know what we are doing and that the ground is more than capable of hosting big cricket.''

All money raised from last night's match will assist the Ponting Foundation to support Tasmanian children battling cancer.

Ponting said before the match that raising anything in excess of $150,000 or $200,000 would be a huge relief.

Exact funds raised will not be known until next week.

Ricky Ponting with wife Rianna and daughter Matisse shortly before receiving the key to the city.

Ricky Ponting with wife Rianna and daughter Matisse shortly before receiving the key to the city.


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