Ricky Ponting has given Michael Clarke his support after the Twenty20 captain questioned his own form following Australia's loss to England in the World Twenty20 final in the Caribbean. Clarke's future as the Twenty20 leader is likely to be decided over the next week as the selectors settle on squads to tour England, and Ponting hasn't seen anything to suggest Clarke should not stay in charge.
"I don't know what he had to say about himself, but everything I've been reading is very positive about him and how he's led the team," Ponting told Fox Sports. "I notice the coach [Tim Nielsen] made some positive comments and every time I have seen Michael in a leadership role he has done exceptionally well. So there are some really good signs there for the future of Australian cricket."
However, it is not Clarke's captaincy that has been a concern over the past couple of weeks - the defeat in the final was his first loss as T20 captain - but his struggles with the bat. Clarke finished the tournament with the fewest runs of any Australian specialist batsman, and his strike-rate of 80 was well below the levels expected in Twenty20.
The selectors are expected to meet on the weekend to discuss the squads for the upcoming contests in the UK and Dublin, where Australia have five ODIs against England, one versus Ireland, and two Twenty20s and two Tests against Pakistan. The next World Twenty20 is scheduled for 2012, so the Australians have plenty of time to decide on the team's leadership.
One thing that is certain is that Ponting won't be making a comeback to the shortest format. His focus is squarely on regaining the Ashes next summer at home and he is already training for the tour of England, but he was keeping an eye on the way his colleagues performed in the West Indies.
"I was disappointed for the boys; no doubt they were the best team right through the tournament but they stumbled at the last hurdle," Ponting said. "They should be proud of the way they conducted themselves. Of course you would like to be there, but I made the decision I made for all the right reasons. I was finding it increasingly difficult to play all three formats of the game the way I wanted to."