Oz cricket greats back Clarke as Ponting successor

Sydney: Former Australian cricket captain and well known commentator Richie Benaud has backed Michael Clarke to succeed Ricky Ponting as Test captain despite reports of dressing room dissent.

“I see no reason why Clarke, the vice-captain shouldn’t take over from Ponting, the captain. Any time a team is getting beaten there are always concerns,” said Benaud.

“But Michael Clarke will be vice-captain when Ponting comes back (after missing Wednesday’s one-day loss to Sri Lanka in Melbourne),” The Sydney Morning Herald quoted him, as saying.

“I wouldn’t do anything that might suggest to England that there is any sort of panic in the camp,” said Benaud, describing the Ashes visitors as a very strong team.

“It may be that the next innings he (Clarke) plays will be a century, in the same way as he made one in India only two and a half weeks ago. And no-one was saying then that Clarke should go,” he said.

Benaud dismissed reports that unnamed senior players remain firmly opposed to the idea of Clarke taking over the captaincy from 35-year-old Ponting.

“I would like to think that if that’s the way some cricketers in the team feel they would be honest enough to put their names to it. Otherwise I’m not interested,” he said.

Australia has not won in any form of the game since beating Pakistan in England in July.

It was Clarke’s sixth straight loss as captain since May.

Another great of the 1950s and 60s, all-rounder Alan Davidson, also came to Clarke’s defence, saying: “He had problems (against Sri Lanka) because the bowlers were bloody awful. I don’t know how you can bowl wides in a match.”