Ricky Ponting heaped praise on opposing captain Andrew Strauss and his England team after Australia lost their grip on the Ashes.
The tourists slumped to a heavy 197-run defeat in the fifth Test at The Brit Oval, resulting in Ponting's side losing out 2-1 in the series.
At the end of the Test, the 34-year-old stated his admiration of the way Strauss had led England to victory by example.
"You've got to give full credit to England and particularly Andrew Strauss for the way he's led the side and the way he's batted through the series," Ponting told Sky Sports.
"He's deserved the awards that have come his way here and England have won some really crucial moments in this series."
Ponting also dismissed any suggestion that the best team did not win after Australia dominated statistically throughout the series.
The tourists managed eight hundreds to two from England, while they also had the three leading wicket-takers.
He added: "If you look back through all the stats and that everything like that, you probably scratch your head and wonder how it's turned out like it has.
"But they've won the big moments and they've deserved to win the series and full credit to our guys for fighting it out like they have."
England almost got off to the worst possible start in the series when they had to rely on a last-wicket stand from James Anderson and Monty Panesar to escape from the first Test with a draw.
Although he admitted that the last session at Cardiff was a turning point in the series, Ponting claimed there were many other chances for Australia to kill off their opponents' chances.
"Yes they have been in the end but we knew that at the time as well, we knew that it would be great to go 1-0 up after one Test in the series," he said.
"We weren't quite good enough to get across the line there and there's been countless opportunities for us through this series to put our stamp on games but as I said we haven't been good enough."
Ponting realises he will face questions about his future when he returns to his homeland but insists his side did not give up the Ashes through a lack of effort.
"I've got no idea (whether his captaincy is in doubt), I've probably got all that waiting for me when I get back to Australia," he admitted.
"All I can say is from me and every other guy in the side is that we've given everything 100 per cent since we've been here.
"We've all really enjoyed the tour, there's been some great Test match cricket played again and I think it just goes to show how alive and well Test cricket is around the world when you have a series like this being played."