Melbourne: Australian skipper Ricky Ponting has got high-level support to retain the captaincy beyond the World Cup amid speculation that he would be fired in the next fortnight on the ground of form slump and disciplinary issues.
Australia`s build-up for the high-profile quarter-final against India on Thursday was rocked by a report that Cricket Australia could terminate Ponting`s captaincy for a one-day tour of Bangladesh starting on April 4.
Ponting, who has been under scanner since the Ashes loss early this year, have been in news for wrong reasons in the World Cup after being reprimanded by ICC for damaging a TV screen with his protector during Australia`s first match against Zimbabwe.
He again hit the headlines after publicly warning teammate Steve Smith and also faced criticism for standing his ground until he was given out on a TV umpire`s review despite knowing he`d got a thick edge during their defeat to Pakistan.
But a CA board member has quashed the talks of sacking from captaincy, saying that Ponting would remain in the top job at least until a five-man panel completes its probe of Australian cricket.
The blueprint for reform is set to be tabled in August, before Australia`s tour of Sri Lanka.
"We haven`t even discussed Ricky`s future as captain, so for us it`s business as usual," the CA board member was quoted as saying by an Australian newspaper.
"I`ve seen the report (which said Ponting could be fired). I spoke to three other board members about it and we were surprised by it. As a board we think Ricky has done a superb job. He`s done it tough at the World Cup, but I can assure you his future has not even been an agenda item," the CA board member said.
"At the moment there is a review taking place and I dare say we`ll be awaiting the results of that before we make decisions on anything."
The newspaper said Ponting has the backing of at least six of the 14-member CA board. Former captain Mark Taylor and former opening batsman Matthew Hayden are CA board members.
Given that three of Ponting`s predecessors as captain - Taylor, Steve Waugh and Allan Border -- will preside over a review of the national team, it is unlikely the trio would recommend he be axed, the newspaper said.
Meanwhile, Australian Cricketers` Association chief executive Paul Marsh said it was "irresponsible" for a Cricket Australia official to forecast the axing of Ponting so close to the team`s World Cup clash with India.
"Firstly, if a senior official is going to make such inflammatory comments about our national captain, and one of this country`s greatest ever players, how about having the guts to at least put your name to them," said Marsh. "Secondly, the team is two days away from one of its biggest games in recent memory, and now they have to deal with the speculation and discussion surrounding these irresponsible comments.
"I`ve been scratching my head all day trying to work out why someone associated with CA would make these comments two days before a World Cup quarter final."
Fast bowler Mitchell Johnson said that teammates had taken it upon themselves to support their captain.
"He (Ponting) is a guy we all look up to. He`s copped a fair bit lately, and he`s dealing with it in his own way. He`s got that experience to be able to deal with it. I don`t think he`s thinking about it too much, he`s just worried about this next game," he said.
"The guys are there to support him. Everyone needs support at times in their lives, and he is getting support from everyone. He is a tough character but he enjoys that support," said Johnson in support of his captain.