* Most successful test skipper hands over reins
* Ponting to continue as batsman
* Clarke expected to assume captaincy
(adds cricket Australia chairman quote)
By Nick Mulvenney
SYDNEY, March 29 Ricky Ponting, the most
successful captain in 134 years of test cricket, resigned as the
Australian test and one-day skipper on Tuesday but aims to
continue playing the game at the highest level.
The 36-year-old had led Australia in one day internationals
since 2002 and tests since 2004, a period encompassing his
country's absolute domination of world cricket and steady
decline after the retirement of a golden generation of players.
With Cricket Australia under pressure to sack him in the
wake of a home Ashes defeat to England and a quarter-final exit
as defending champions at the World Cup this year, the tough
Tasmanian decided to fall on his sword.
"I've had the chance to think long and hard about it and
today I've decided to stand down as captain of the test team and
the one-day team as of now," he told a news conference at the
Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
"I am really excited about the next chapter in my career...
I think I've got a lot to offer as a player and certainly as a
leader for some of the younger players around, if and when
He will almost certainly be replaced by Michael Clarke on
Wednesday and said letting his successor have next month's tour
of Bangladesh to start putting his own imprint on the team was a
key factor in the timing of his decision.
"I think the timing was absolutely perfect," he said. "I
wanted to make sure that the person coming in had as much time
as possible to get themselves prepared and get their focus on
where they want the team to go."
Ponting denied he had jumped before he was pushed.
"I'll absolutely go on record here to say that I've had
absolutely no tap on the shoulder," he said. "This is a decision
that's been wholly and solely made by me and people close to
Australia won 48 of 77 tests and 164 of 228 one day
internationals, including two World Cups, under Ponting. No
other captain has won as many games in either form.
Admired but rarely loved in Australia, Ponting admitted that
his tenure as his country's 42nd test captain would probably be
remembered by some for the three Ashes series losses he oversaw.
"It's funny how we talk about losing the Ashes series three
times," he said. "Playing on three World Cup winning teams
doesn't come up every often, winning 16 consecutive test matches
doesn't come up very much, winning 30-odd consecutive World Cup
matches doesn't come up very often.
"I know within myself... what I've achieved in the game and
I'm very proud of it."
Cricket Australia said the new captain would be named on
Wednesday and Ponting gave strong backing to Clarke, who stood
in for the injured captain in the final Ashes test and for the
one-day series against England that followed.
"He's done a terrific job in almost every game he's
captained Australia," said Ponting. "I totally would endorse
Michael Clarke as the next captain."
Australia went to the World Cup looking for a fourth
straight title but returned home after defeat to India in the
last eight, their remarkable unbeaten run in the tournament
having been ended at 34 matches by Pakistan in the group stage.
Ponting, whose reputation as one of the best batsman the
game has ever seen is assured, bucked a poor run of form to hit
a defiant century in the quarter-final defeat to India,
increasing his determination to continue playing.
"I proved to myself the other day that I've still got what
it takes to play a good international innings," he said. "Now
that I won't have all the extra responsibility of the captaincy,
I think I can turn myself into a better player than I've shown
in the last six months."
Cricket Australia chairman Jack Clarke said he looked
forward to watching Ponting continue to bat for Australia.
"Ricky Ponting has been an outstanding batsman, one of the
best to wear the baggy green," he said.
"His leadership as captain has been outstanding and I
sometimes think his brilliance with the bat has overshadowed his
fine work as captain."
Ponting hopes to play in Bangladesh and on the test tours of
Sri Lanka and South Africa later in the year and said selectors
should resist calls for a wholesale clear-out of players in
"What I think you don't and you can't ever afford to have in
the team is to have a mass exodus of all those sort of players
at once," he said.
"I think we've seen that in the last couple of years when we
had a lot of the greats move on at one time. It left us very
bare. It's been hard for us to rebuild and get ourselves back to
where we want to as a result of that."
(Editing by Ian Ransom and John O'Brien)
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