Ponting backs ‘thinking cricketer’ Watson’s captaincy skills

Sydney: Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has backed Shane Watson to do a fine job if he has to captain Australia against Sri Lanka in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, as long as he doesn`t think too much.

Michael Clarke is hopeful of overcoming a hamstring injury to lead the team into the second Test against Sri Lanka, but he has some work to do to prove his fitness.

Watson faces a bigger challenge than most to balance his roles as a top-order batsman and important seam bowler, not to mention the strains on his body and his habit of agonising over his game.

Ponting planned to phone Watson on Friday to deliver a couple of pieces of advice, in case Clarke doesn`t recover in time to play.

“I was going to actually give him a ring today and have a chat to him about this stuff, just in case it did happen,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Ponting, as saying to an Australian agency.

“Knowing what ``Watto`` is like, he is a bit of a thinker, he is probably someone who is better off knowing on the morning of the game [if he`s going to be captain] and not having to worry too much about the lead-up,” he added.

“What I will say to him is exactly what Steve Waugh said to me, which is that it`s important for Shane to get himself prepared as a batsman, first and foremost, and let your instincts when you`re out on the field take over,” he said.

Ponting added: “He has been around a lot, played in a lot of successful teams, and played with a lot of good leaders, so I am sure he will handle the situation well if it`s presented.