Ricky Ponting Backs Michael Clarke as Australia Captain After Leaving Post
Ponting, 36, stepped down as Test and one-day skipper yesterday following last week’s quarterfinal loss to India, ending his record-breaking nine-year run. He said he wants to continue as a specialist batsman in both teams and backed Michael Clarke, his deputy, to take over as captain.
“I totally think that’s the way that it will go, for the sheer fact that he’s done a terrific job in almost every game that he’s had a chance to captain Australia,” Ponting told reporters in Sydney. “He’s certainly growing into those leadership roles every day so I totally would endorse Michael Clarke as the next captain.”
Selectors are scheduled to name a squad today for three one-day games in Bangladesh next month, with Cricket Australia’s board having yesterday considered a recommendation from chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch on Ponting’s successor.
Should Clarke get the job, he’ll replace a captain who won 48 of 77 Tests, more than any other skipper in 134 years of elite cricket. Ponting also led Australia to the 2003 and 2007 World Cup titles and won more than three-quarters of his 228 one-day matches as captain.
Middle-order batsman Clarke led Australia in January’s fifth Ashes Test against England in Sydney, which the home team lost by an innings and 83 runs. Ponting missed the match because of a finger injury.
Clarke, who turns 30 in three days, had previously captained the Twenty20 team. He’s also deputized for Ponting in the one-day format.
The winner in more Tests and one-day games both as a player and captain than any other Australian cricketer, Ponting also has overseen the team’s slide from first to fifth in the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings.
His leadership came under scrutiny following the 3-1 series defeat to England during the past Australian summer. It was Australia’s first Ashes loss at home for 24 years and made Ponting the only Australian captain to lose three Ashes series.
“There probably are a few people out there who will look at me in that light,” Ponting said. “It’s funny how we talk about losing the Ashes three times -- playing in three World Cup-winning teams, winning 16 consecutive Test matches, winning 30-odd consecutive World Cup games doesn’t come up very often.”
Defeat to India last week ended Australia’s bid to win its fourth straight World Cup. Ponting emerged from a batting slump in that match by hitting 104 -- his first international century for 13 months.
His 12,363 runs at an average of 53.51 place him second behind India’s Sachin Tendulkar on the all-time list of Test run scorers. In 359 one-day internationals, he’s tallied 13,288 runs at 42.58. Only Tendulkar and Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya have scored more career runs in the 50-over format.
Ponting said he can still make a positive contribution to the team as a senior player and batsman and would have no problem playing under a new captain.
“I’ll be sitting in the corner,” Ponting said. “I’ll be doing my batting and bowling and fielding out on the ground like everyone else and I’m around for advice if needed.”
“The timing was absolutely perfect,” Ponting added. “I’m very happy with the decision I’ve made and it will give the next captain a great opportunity to put his fingertips on the Australian cricket team.”
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