Clarke Named New Australia Captain

Sydney, March 30 (IANS) Michael Clarke was Wednesday appointed Australia's new Test and One-Day International captain following Ricky Ponting's decision to step down.

All-rounder Shane Watson is the new Test and ODI vice-captain. Cameron White will continue as national Twenty20 captain, with Watson again as his deputy.

Clarke, who turns 30 Saturday, will have a task immediately at hand as Australia leave this week on a tour of Bangladesh to play three one-dayers. He later will lead the side in the Tests during the tour of Sri Lanka in August.

Ponting, who led Australia in more than 300 Test and ODI matches, is also a part of the squad. But Clarke insisted that Ponting's presence won't affect or make him feel awkward.

"First of all, can I say what an honour it is to be named captain and also a huge surprise to see Ricky stand down. I know Ricky will allow me to do my job to the best of my ability. Bangladesh will be a great test for that to see how it all unfolds," Clarke said.

Although a heir apparent for the job, Clarke is the least preferred captain by the fans as per the polls.

Only 26 percent of 21,000 respondents in an online poll by Sydney Morning Herald, backed him as the new captain.

He figured a distant third as preferred skipper in a Sydney Daily Telegraph survey of more than 8,500 readers.

It was Shane Watson who polled the most popular captain with more than 2,000 votes followed by Michael Hussey.

For the moment, Clarke is left with the regeneration of a team which has seen quite a few lows off late. Clarke said he wants to see his side taking the top place in all forms of the game.

"I think the guys in the team generally know the way I go about my work and what I expect of all of us as the Australian cricket team," Clarke said, having previously led the side in one Test and a handful of ODI matches.

"Our goals are all exactly the same, we want to become the best team we can be, we want to become the No.1 ranked team in all forms, and that's going to take a long time."

"The key for me is that we go back to basics, old fashioned basics and make sure we're getting out of bed every day and trying to get better at the three major basics in cricket - batting, bowling fielding," he said.


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