Aus captaincy came as a surprise: Ponting
Australia stand-in captain Ricky Ponting has admitted he thought twice when asked to fill in for injured skipper Michael Clarke in today's tri-series clash with Sri Lanka. Ponting last skippered the side in the World Cup quarter-final loss to India 11 months ago and was surprised when John Inverarity offered him the job ahead of popular opener and vice-captain David Warner.
Whack: David Warner hits a six against Sri Lanka at Perth on February
10. Pic/Getty Images
Speaking at his pre-match press conference at the Sydney Cricket Ground, the 37-year-old revealed he had even pulled Warner aside after Sunday's match in Adelaide to prepare him for the prospect of captaining his country after Clarke suffered his hamstring injury.
But the selectors felt it was too soon to hand Warner the skipper's role and instead opted for the vastly-experienced Ponting. "As soon as the game finished in Adelaide I actually dragged him over and made him sit with me for a few minutes and I said to him then, 'look, make sure you've got yourself ready to captain Australia in a couple of days' time'," Ponting said.
'Don't worry about me'
"And then as soon as the decision was made that I was captain he was on the phone to me saying 'don't worry about me, you better make sure you're ready to captain the team'. "So we've had a little bit of a chat about it and Davey's obviously very clear on the direction the selectors have taken and I'm just going to do the best that I can to make sure he gets the most out of the game that he possibly can."
Warner sent a scare through the Australia camp yesterday when he suffered a bruised elbow during fielding practice at the SCG, but the 25-year-old is considered a certain starter by team officials. Asked to elaborate on his initial concerns over returning to the captaincy, Ponting said: "The fact there was a vice-captain named and it looked like I was coming over the top of him and maybe not giving a younger guy an opportunity to captain Australia.
"But I agreed to do it and I actually felt, and I still feel right now, that it's probably the best decision for the team." Ponting is adamant he is merely looking after Clarke's team, though. "I've got a job to do leading this team this week but I want to make it very clear that this is Michael Clarke's team and I'm just stepping up to look after it for a couple of days," he said.
"It's not about me coming in and taking over the ship -- it's about me doing what Michael wants this team to do and what Michael wants this team to achieve."
Tough to beat Oz
Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene says the change of Australia captain has barely rated a mention amongst his team, insisting the hosts will be tough to beat no matter who is at the helm. "Clarke just has a minor injury and I know (Shane) Watson's not there as well so they've gone back to the experience with Ricky," Jayawardene said.
"Definitely they'll put a decent side on the park -- they're an experienced group of cricketers and we just need to concentrate on that and play a good game of cricket." Victoria spinner Jon Holland has been added to the Australia squad as cover for Xavier Doherty, who is doubtful for the Sri Lanka game after suffering back spasms in training.