Sydney, Dec 8 (UNI) Former Australia captain Steve Waugh has given his thumbs up to Michael Clarke's elevation as Twenty20 captain even while cautioning him that it did not mean he would succeed Ricky Ponting in Tests.
''He (Clarke) has obviously been earmarked for future leadership and why not give him an opportunity for a taste of it now,'' Waugh was quoted as saying by Daily Telegraph.
''It doesn't guarantee you are going to be the next leader but he certainly is the favourite.'' Australia will take on New Zealand on Tuesday in a Twenty20 match at Perth under the vigilant eyes of Cricket Australia (CA) selectors who will see how Clarke handles the new resposibility given to him.
''It gives him a bit of a taste in Twenty20 where the stakes aren't so high where you don't have to make so many crucial decisions. It gives you a feel for the job so I think it's a pretty good move,'' Waugh added.
After Steve Waugh's retirement, Clarke grabbed the vacant middle order spot and has now cemented his position in the Australian squad.
Now that he has been given Twenty20 captaincy, he seems to be the favourite to replace Ponting ahead of the other ageing Australian players.
But things could change in this period, particularly if experienced state players who are good leaders move into the national team once the likes of Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist retire.
Gilchrist had earlier said that he had spoken at length to chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch about Clarke's promotion and supported the decision.
But he also raised the name of his team mate Michael Hussey for the job. ''Mike Hussey was captain in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy earlier this year and is obviously a candidate.
''It's a matter of the selectors exploring all the options as they plan for the future. They should certainly keep 'Huss' in the loop and any other guys they think will be worthy of higher honours down the track.'' the wicket keeper added.
Clarke, to his advantage, will have the experience of Gilchrist who no doubt will offer his advice during the matches. He has also been backed by Ponting and former coach John Buchanan for the Twenty20 captaincy.
Waugh also believed that Clarke need not be handed over the vice-captaincy fulltime immediatley as Gilchrist is already close to the end of his career and Ponting would continue a little longer than him.
''I see Ricky Ponting has quite a few more years. I don't think Gilly will be playing as long,'' he said.