CB Series 2011-12 February 14, 2012

Ponting to captain in Clarke's absence

Australia's selectors have turned to the former captain Ricky Ponting as the short-term leadership solution to Michael Clarke's hamstring problem.

Less than a year after he passed the job to Clarke, Ponting will lead his country in Friday's triangular series ODI against Sri Lanka in Sydney.

In naming Ponting as the stand-in captain, the national selector John Inverarity said that David Warner's leadership potential was being closely monitored, though it was thought best not to thrust him into the captaincy immediately. Warner still has only a modest record in ODI matches, and has made an indifferent start to this series.

"After careful consideration the National Selection Panel has asked Ricky Ponting if he would captain the Australian ODI team in Michael Clarke's absence," Inverarity said. "David Warner is a young player making his way. He displays considerable leadership potential, but the NSP is of the view that he should not, at this moment, have the added responsibility of captaincy thrust on him.

"David has been gaining valuable experience under Michael Clarke's captaincy and now he will have the opportunity to grow his leadership skills further as vice-captain to Ricky Ponting. In making this decision the NSP reminded itself of the fact that Ricky Ponting led the winning Australian ICC Cricket World Cup teams in 2003 and 2007. The NSP appreciates the fact that Ricky is prepared to accept this responsibility in the wider interests of the team."

Clarke is expected to be fit in time to return to the team for Sunday's match against India in Brisbane, the second of the two fixtures for which the 14-man squad was named. Another notable change was the resting of the fast bowler Ryan Harris, after he put in an uncharacteristically loose display with the ball and in the field against India in Adelaide.

Inverarity said that Harris was carrying a few "minor niggles" while also appearing to show signs of fatigue after playing in the third and fourth Tests against India then the first three ODIs of the triangular series. In his place are Brett Lee, who has made a swift recovery from a broken bone in his foot, and Ben Hilfenhaus.

"Some players are showing signs of fatigue after a demanding summer in which the Australian team has played with great intensity and purpose and performed with distinction," Inverarity said. " The NSP has omitted Ryan Harris for this reason and for the fact that he is carrying some minor niggles. The NSP has refreshed the squad with the inclusion of Brett Lee and Ben Hilfenhaus. Brett is making a good recovery from his toe injury and will be given rigorous fitness tests before Friday's ODI fixture. As expected Michael Hussey returns to the squad."

Shane Watson, meanwhile, has been deemed ready to return to first-class cricket after a grade appearance in Sydney over the weekend. He will turn out alongside the Test wicketkeeper Brad Haddin for New South Wales against Western Australia in Perth, in a Sheffield Shield match starting on Friday.

"Shane played a Grade cricket game in Sydney on Saturday," the team physio Alex Kountouris said. "He batted and bowled in that game without any issue and will be available for consideration for selection for a Bupa Shield game in Perth later this week as he continues his return from injury."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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