Clarke takes Australia reins
Michael Clarke was today confirmed as captain of Australia’s Test and one-day teams.
The batsman, who turns 30 on Saturday, had been the anticipated choice of Cricket Australia following Ricky Ponting’s resignation yesterday, and his appointment was confirmed at a press conference.
Clarke had served as vice-captain to Ponting, and in the Tasmanian’s injury-enforced absence he led Australia to a 6-1 victory over England in the one-day series which preceded the World Cup.
All-rounder Shane Watson will serve as Clarke's vice-captain, while Cameron White is to continue as skipper of the Twenty20 side.
Clarke said: “What an honour it is to be named captain of Australia.
"It was a huge surprise to see Ricky stand down. I was very much unaware of where he was at, and had no idea he was going to step down and that was a surprise to me.
“I want to thank him for his help, support and guidance, and look forward to continuing our work together going forward.”
Ponting led Australia’s one-day international team for nine years, and the Test side for seven years, but has opted to leave the role and return to the team ranks as he bids to rediscover his best form.
He has been included in Australia’s squad for next month’s series of one-day internationals in Bangladesh.
Clarke rejected the suggestion that Ponting, given his stature in the game, could be “an elephant in the dressing room”.
“I don’t think Ricky is an elephant in any room,” Clarke said. “I know he’ll let me do my job to the best of my ability.
"I have a very good working relationship with Punter and I'm confident that if he can continue to play as well as he has done for such a long time I'm certain it can work."
Watson is relishing his own increased responsibility.
“I’d like to say how honoured I am to be awarded the vice-captaincy of the Australian team,” he said.
“It’s a big thrill for me. I’m looking forward to working closely with Michael to build something big for the future. I’m sure he’s looking forward to it, I definitely am.”
Cricket Australia chairman Jack Clarke endorsed Clarke’s appointment, saying: “Michael has shown himself to be excellent with his on-field tactics when heading the national side.
“To captain your country is a great honour and responsibility and I congratulate Michael and wish him the best in what will be an exciting and challenging time.”
Australia will play three one-day matches against Bangladesh, all in Dhaka, on April 9, 11 and 13.
Their squad shows changes to the group which travelled to the World Cup, where defeat to India ended their campaign in the quarter-finals.
With Shaun Tait quitting one-day internationals after the tournament, the selectors have brought in James Pattinson, a 20-year-old pace bowler who plays state cricket for Victoria.
David Hussey misses out for family reasons, while slow left-armer Xavier Doherty returns at the expense of off-spinner Jason Krejza.
National selection panel chairman Andrew Hilditch said: “Xavier was not considered for the ICC Cricket World Cup because of a nagging back injury. Jason bowled well in the World Cup, but now Xavier has recovered from injury he deserves to come back into the squad.
"Shaun Tait has retired from one-day cricket. The NSP has selected James Pattinson to come into the squad. James is a very exciting young fast bowler and the NSP is confident he will have an impact in international cricket.
“David Hussey was not available for selection on this tour due to the imminent birth of his first child.”
Hilditch also saluted the contribution of Ponting and the choice of Clarke as his successor.
He said: “The NSP wants to take this opportunity to formally recognise the outstanding contribution of Ricky Ponting as the leader of the Australian cricket team in recent years. Ricky has been an inspirational leader of men. He has led the side with skill, courage, passion, determination and integrity at all times.
“The NSP is, however, also very excited by today’s appointments. Michael has shown great leadership and tactical skills in the opportunities he has had to lead the side when Ricky has been injured or not available.
“In January this year after the disappointment of the Ashes loss, due to Ricky’s injury, Michael took over the captaincy and led the team to an outstanding victory in the one-day series against England.
"The time is right now with Ricky steeping down for Michael to assume the leadership of the Australian cricket team.”
Australia squad for tour of Bangladesh: Michael Clarke (captain), Shane Watson (vice-captain), Xavier Doherty, Callum Ferguson, Brad Haddin, John Hastings, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Ricky Ponting, Steve Smith, Cameron White.