Ponting open to giving Clarke limited-overs captaincy

Ricky Ponting speaks to reporters on his arrival in Australia AFP

Australia's captain Ricky Ponting is open to the idea of handing deputy Michael Clarke the leadership responsibilities for the Twenty20 and one-day teams, and preserving himself for Test cricket.

Clarke, 28, has already captained Australia in 11 limited-overs and two Twenty20 internationals while Ponting has been rested or injured. He was installed as Test vice-captain after the retirement of Adam Gilchrist, and led all Australian batsmen with 448 runs at 64.00 during the 2009 Ashes series.

Ponting assumed the one-day leadership in 2002 while Steve Waugh was still at the helm of the Test side. The pair shared the captaincy until Waugh's retirement from Test cricket in 2004. Ponting has been the first-choice captain of Australia's Test, ODI and Twenty20 sides ever since.

"If that's the way that I or others outside of what I'm thinking decide (is) the right way to go, there's absolutely no reason why that couldn't happen," Ponting said of splitting the captaincy with Clarke. "It has happened in the past with Australian teams. It is happening with other teams around the world right at the moment.

"Paul Collingwood is captain of the England Twenty20 team and Andrew Strauss is captain of the one-day and Test cricket teams. Those things are things that need to be thought long and hard about, but if it means that I'm going to be better off for Test matches and bigger series when they come around."

Ponting returned to Sydney on Wednesday after becoming the first Australian captain since Billy Murdoch to twice surrender the Ashes in England. The defeat at Lord's ensured Australia the added ignominy of slipping to fourth place on the ICC Test rankings, having lost three of their past five series.

Australia's transitional issues have led to calls from certain sections of the local media for Ponting's axing as captain, however he has reaffirmed his desire to play on until the 2013 Ashes series.

"Having a pretty bitter and sour taste in my mouth at the end of that Test match, I'd love to be able to go back and give it one more crack," he said. "I've got to worry about the next 12 or 18 months and see if all that hunger or commitment is still there. It's probably higher right now than ever before. Who knows, 2013 might be something achievable.

"I still think I've got a lot to offer the team, as a batsman and as a captain and as a leader. If it ends up getting to the point where I'm not the captain, my hunger and determination to keep playing this game are as good as ever.

"If that's with a 'c' next to my name, all well and good. If it's not, I still think I have a lot to offer, particularly a lot of younger guys who are around our set-up at the moment."

Australia's returning cricketers have expressed their ongoing support for Ponting, with Stuart Clark describing calls for his sacking as "ludicrous". "He's the best man to captain," Clark said after arriving at Sydney airport. "I think it's ludicrous that anyone would say any other [person should captain Australia]. That's the way it is."

Simon Katich was similarly defensive of Ponting. "There were eleven of us out there that had the opportunity to win the Ashes and you can't just blame it on one person," Katich said. "We had our chances through the whole five Tests."