Michael Clarke accepts role in axeing Ponting
Michael Clarke is confident his role on the selection panel that dropped Ricky Ponting from the ODI side will not lead to tension between Ponting and himself.
Clarke is a member of the five-man group headed by John Inverarity that ended Ponting's one-day international career earlier this week after deciding they needed to plan for the limited-overs team's future.
However, Clarke and Ponting will have to work closely together as the No. 4 and 5 batsmen during the Test tour of the West Indies in April after Ponting confirmed he wanted to play on in the longer format. Clarke did not shy away from his role on the panel and said Ponting, who had made five single-figure ODI scores in succession, understood that the decision was not personal.
"I'm 100% part of the selection panel," Clarke said. "That's part now of the captain's job. We've made this decision as a panel. It is tough not having the great Ricky Ponting out there playing for us but that's the decision we've made. Obviously the 2015 World Cup is something we've spoken about as a panel. I'm 100% a part of that.
"Ricky was captain of the team for a long time and although he wasn't a selector he played a big part in selecting the XI players that took the field. I remember getting dropped after the Test match in the West Indies and Punter was the one who came and told me I hadn't been selected. He knows it's certainly not personal. I'm very confident our friendship is a lot stronger than that."
Australia will play their first match in the post-Ponting ODI era against Sri Lanka in Hobart on Friday. That Tasmania is Ponting's home state has been cause for some debate over whether he should have been given a farewell match - the Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jaywardene said there was usually scope for farewell games in his country - but Clarke said there was no reason to think Ponting had played his last match for Australia on home soil.
"He's going to play a lot more Test cricket I hope," he said. "So there's going to be plenty of time for Ricky to play international cricket for Australia."
Although Clarke has played 38 one-day internationals without Ponting in the side the feeling will different this time, knowing that his absence is permanent in this format. Not only is Ponting Australia's most-capped and highest-scoring ODI player, he has offered much in the way of off-field support, both as a sounding board for the new captain Clarke and as a mentor for younger players.
Ponting even took on the captaincy in his final two matches when Clarke was injured, while many former leaders might have been reluctant to return to the job in similar circumstances. Clarke said it was odd to think of an Australian one-day dressing room without Ponting after his 17-year career in the format.
"It certainly is [strange]," he said. "He's certainly going to be missed. I've been great friends with Punter for a long time and that certainly won't change. But I've also played a lot of one-day cricket with him and it's going to feel really weird looking around the field and not seeing him there.
"I'll miss his guidance out on the field, his guidance off the field, his friendship, his experience around the group, his knowledge of this game. They're things that no matter much talent you have as a young player, the experience and knowledge of the game you need to learn."
Ponting's departure will also force a reworking of Australia's top order. The nature of the line-up will depend on whether Shane Watson is named to play in his first match back from injury, but it could be that Watson and David Warner open with Michael Clarke at No.3 and Matthew Wade slides down the order.