Deputy Clarke stands by Ponting
Michael Clarke does not believe splitting the Australia captaincy is in the best interests of the team, despite incumbent Ricky Ponting admitting he was open to the idea.
Ponting has come under fire for his captaincy during Australia’s Ashes defeat, with critics suggesting the time is right for the 34-year-old to cede his role, in limited-overs cricket at least, to his vice-captain Clarke.
Surprisingly Ponting admitted such debate was worthwhile when he fronted the media in Sydney this week, an about-turn after saying earlier this year he would like to lead his country at the 2011 ICC World Cup.
Ponting is back in Australia for a scheduled two-week break - he will rejoin his team-mates in the latter part of the seven-match NatWest one-day international series against England - and in his absence Clarke will stand in as skipper.
Clarke’s first game in charge arrives tomorrow in a one-off ODI against Scotland in Edinburgh, where he dismissed questions he could yet be readying himself to take the role on full-time basis.
Asked if the captaincy should be split, he simply replied: “No”.
Clarke then gave his full backing to Ponting, adding: “At this stage, we only have one leader and, in my opinion Punter (Ponting) is my captain.
“I’ve only had one captain in my career. Ricky is my leader. It’s very unfair for one guy to be criticised.
“Yes, he’s our captain, he’s our leader, but one of Punter’s greatest strengths is he never complains about that.
“The reality is the whole team lost the series. Every player in the squad takes some sort of responsibility. It’s not one guy’s fault.”
Looking forward to tomorrow’s match, where an near-capacity 4,500 spectators are expected, Clarke said it was a good opportunity to put their Ashes defeat behind them.
The Australia team has been refreshed by some new additions including the likes of upcoming trio David Warner, Callum Ferguson and Tim Paine.
Uncapped wicketkeeper-batsman Paine is set to be given his international bow after Brad Haddin was ruled out of the limited-overs matches with the broken finger he sustained in the third Test.
“The feeling is looking forward to moving on,” Clarke said. “There’s some new players around the place so hopefully they can refresh us and help us along.
“Certainly it’s a good opportunity for them to impress with a World Cup on the horizon.”
Clarke also expects veteran paceman Brett Lee to have a point to prove after a side injury last month ultimately ruined his Ashes ambitions.
The quick had recovered in time for the final two Tests, but was overlooked and Clarke expects him to be raring to go tomorrow.
“Brett will be keen as mustard,” Clarke said. “He’s disappointed not to have taken part in the Test series, but has contributed a lot throughout the series. He’s itching to go.”
Scotland skipper Gavin Hamilton admits he is expecting a “full backlash” from Australia following their Ashes defeat.
That does not augur well for the Scots who have been in poor form of late, most notably losing to Afghanistan as they failed to qualify for the 2011 World Cup in April.
“On the back of the Ashes loss the last thing they’ll want to do is come out unsuccessful from this one,” said Hamilton, who has played a solitary Test for England. “We’re expecting a full backlash from them.”