Mumbai:Australia captain Ricky Ponting has been chosen as the "ESPN Cricinfo Player of the Decade for the 2000s" by a 38-strong panel of experts, including current and former players.
Ponting beat back the challenge of other current greats of the game including senior Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who is placed sixth in the list.
Sitting at the top, the Australian fetched highest 60 points, 23 more than the second placed Protea all-rounder Jacques Kallis (37) who was followed by Ponting's compatriot Adam Gilchrist (29).
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Over the past decade, Ponting has scored more runs and centuries in both forms of the game than any other batsman and is the only player to go past the 9000-mark in both forms.
The 35-year-old right-handed batsman scored 55 centuries in international cricket during the period, 13 clear of Tendulkar, and was one of only three batsmen to average more than 58 in Tests, a media release said.
South Africa's Kallis and Pakistan's Mohammad Yousuf are the two others.
The leading cricket website's jury that selected Ponting was asked to pick their top three cricketers of the 2000s.
Each number one vote fetched three points; a number two vote, two points, and a number three vote one point and Ponting earned 60 points, beating out Kallis who finished second with 37 points, the release said.
Happy at winning the award, the three-time World Cup winning batsman said what made him proud the most about his career was its longevity.
"When I played my hundredth Test, I said that the one thing that I'm most proud of has been the longevity of my career and the fact that I've been able to play at a pretty high level for a long period of time," Ponting said.
"I have played in an era where there's been a lot of great players. Some of the leading run-scorers of all time have played in my time and a lot of the leading wicket-takers of all time have played in my time as well.
"When you stack that up - to be recognised as the leading player in the decade against some of those other guys makes it a little bit more special," he added.
Praising Ponting, former England captain and now a commentator Tony Greig felt that the rate at which the Australia captain had scored his huge amount of runs made him a big draw card.
"Ricky Ponting has been the stand out batsman of the decade. His mountain of runs combined with the speed at which he has scored them in both formats of the game also makes him one of the most pleasing batsmen to watch."
Former Pakistan captain Rameez Raja said that Ponting's aggression with the bat has also rubbed on his leadership qualities.
"Ricky Ponting takes the attack to the Opposition and bosses the game from the word go and then carries this aggressive mindset to the field as a captain. His cricket philosophy is attack and win, which makes Australia still the team to beat," Raja said.
India's Rahul Dravid got two points and was placed ninth above West Indies' Shivnarine Chanderpaul (1).
Meanwhile, players from India and England led this year's nominees for the awards, with nine nominations from each team.
They were followed by eight nominations for Pakistani cricketers, seven for Australia, six each from Sri Lanka and New Zealand, five for West Indies, three from South Africa, and one each from Bangladesh, Ireland and Netherlands.
The awards are presented in six different categories and the nominees have been shortlisted by the wesbsite's global staff. The winners will be announced in the second week of next month, the release said.
In 2008, dashing India opener Sehwag and South Africa pacer Steyn bagged the Test Batting and Bowling performance of the year while Sri Lanka's Sanath Jayasuriya and Ajantha Mendis bagged the ODI Batting and Bowling performance of the year.
India's Gautam Gambhir, Sehwag, Rahul Dravid (Best batting performance in Tests), Zaheer Khan, S Sreesanth (Best bowling performance in Tests), Sachin Tendulkar, Gambhir (Best batting performance in ODIs), Ishant Sharma and Harbhajan Singh (Best bowling performance in ODIs) are among the nominees.