Melbourne: Former Australian Test captain Kim Hughes feels former skipper and current national selector Greg Chappell forced Ricky Ponting to step down as Australia captain.
Ponting though, after stepping down from captaincy, made it clear that Australia`s World Cup ouster had prompted his decision and insisted that he was not pressurised by Cricket Australia to give up the leadership role.
But Hughes, who was compelled to resign as Australian captain in the mid 1980s following a string of heavy losses, is convinced that Ponting did not make the decision on his own, and Chappell had a role to play.
"I`m a bit surprised," Hughes told a Perth based media channel SPortFM on a Sports Breakfast show, adding that Ponting`s statement -- "I`ll choose my own time" – is "rubbish".
"Greg is a strong enough personality and if he doesn`t want Ricky Ponting there then that would be it, whether Ricky Ponting wanted to stay or not."
Five days after India handed down a crushing defeat in the World Cup quarter-finals, embattled Ponting today resigned as Test and ODI captain, bringing to an end the tenure of Australia`s most successful skipper.
However, Ponting said he wanted to remain in the side as a batsman.
He also endorsed Michael Clarke as his successor but Hughes said he has reservations about Clarke`s ability as skipper.
"Michael Clarke has been very disappointing and will continue to be until he gets his footwork sorted out. But he is the only one I can see as a captain," said Hughes.
"They are not going to pick Cameron White because he is not a good enough player, George Bailey is not a good enough player and had a disappointing Shield final and I wouldn`t want to burden Brad Haddin or Shane Watson," he added.
Insisting that Ponting should have been retained captain for the upcoming tours of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, Hughes said, "If (Clarke) goes over to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and has another bad series, all of a sudden he`s just become captain and his position is under the pump.”
"I would rather (let) Ricky Ponting do this for the next six months. It`s a lot easier to captain at home than when it`s away."