Clarke's prospects of succeeding Punter lifted

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Sydney, Apr 1 (UNI) Michael Clarke's prospects of becoming Australia's next captain brightened when he was named as vice-captain for next month's tour of the West Indies.

With Adam Gilchrist retired, Clarke will act as deputy on the Australian tour of the West Indies next month and is now set to become Australia's 42nd Test captain.

''Every young cricketer has dreams to play for Australia, number one, and to be vice-captain or captain of your country,'' Clarke said.

''I'm certainly honoured. It's a fantastic opportunity and I'm looking forward to continuing to learn as much as I can from Ricky Ponting.'' He recently knocked back the chance of making some fast money in the IPL, saying he preferred to spend time fishing with his father Les, who was diagnosed with Hodgkins disease 12 months ago.

His appointment might also miff supporters of 32-year-old West Australian Mike Hussey, who led Australia - not very successfully - on a brief tour of New Zealand last year and impresses everyone with his character and knowledge of the game.

''I'm sure there are plenty of people who are going to have questions and probably have their own opinion on me getting this opportunity,'' said Clarke, who vowed to prove he was worthy of the job.

Chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said the clincher was Clarke's sure-footed handling of the Australian Twenty20 side last season.

''We have identified the need to look towards the future,'' Hilditch said. ''While we had some very strong candidates within the current team, including Michael Hussey, we had no hesitation in recommending Michael Clarke for the position.'' ''We were thrilled with his performances as captain during the two Twenty20 games and believe he has outstanding leadership credentials.'' Clarke's promotion was just one of a number of significant changes in the 15-man test and 14-man one-day squads to tour the Caribbean.

UNI XC CS AM HT1412

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