Ricky Ponting has stepped down as Australia's captain in Tests and ODIs following their quarter-final exit from the World Cup but will be available for selection as a batsman in both formats. Ponting made the announcement at the SCG on Tuesday, and backed Michael Clarke to take over the leadership of the team.
Ponting said the World Cup exit had prompted his decision and that "no one has tapped me on the shoulder asking me to go."
"I have resigned as captain of both the Test and one-day Australian teams. I will continue to play and am available for selection in both the one day and Test teams," Ponting said. "I have thought long and hard about what Australian cricket needs. Now is the right time for the next captain to assume the responsibility for both the Test and one-day teams. We have to be doing everything we can to win back the Ashes in 2013-14 and the World Cup in 2015. It is highly unlikely that I will be still playing so it is the right decision for Australian cricket that the next captain now be appointed. This will give him the opportunity to create his own direction and legacy.
"Today is a new start for me and I am very excited about the future. I will give my complete support to our new captain and continue to do my best to set the best possible example for my team-mates and emerging cricketers alike."
Any suggestions that Ponting might have been told it was time to quit as captain were categorically denied by the man himself, and his words rang true next to the obvious - and perhaps not always constructive - deference of the chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch, coach Tim Nielsen and CA chief executive James Sutherland.
"I'll absolutely go on record here as saying I've had no tap on the shoulder from anybody; this is a decision that's been made wholly and solely by me and people close to me, my family first and foremost," Ponting said.
"If the decision was too late I think I would've had the selectors and my bosses in Cricket Australia telling me a while ago they felt my time might've been up.
"I can go on record again and say I have never received that sort of message from the selectors or from Cricket Australia."
Ponting expressed his desire to travel to Bangladesh for three limited-overs matches next month. The team for the tour will not be named until Wednesday, but Ponting's announcement should allow Clarke to assume the captaincy on the tour, before difficult assignments against Sri Lanka and South Africa later in the year.
On his arrival home from an unsuccessful World Cup defence, Ponting had said he was prepared to give up the captaincy and also move down the batting order if it was in the interests of the Australian team. With the benefit of a day's reflection, he decided that now was the best time to go. At 36, Ponting believed he can still enjoy the type of renaissance that has sustained Sachin Tendulkar in recent times.
Ponting held the Australian Test and one-day captaincy since he took over from Steve Waugh. He led Australia in 77 Tests of which 48 were wins, the most for any captain. He also captained Australia in a record 228 ODIs and won 164, including two World Cups in 2003 and 2007. Ponting's fortunes as captain, however, waned along with those of the team as a series of retirements weakened its resources. His Test captaincy flamed out in the 3-1 home Ashes defeat in 2010-11 and his one-day reign ended with elimination from the World Cup.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo