Abu Dhabi (UAE), May 3 (ANI): Michael Clarke's commanding performance as a player and leader in Australia's 3-1 series victory over Pakistan in Dubai and Abu Dhabi has confirmed him as the leader-in-waiting.
Handed the reins for his first overseas tour while Ponting rests up ahead of the Twenty20 World Cup and Ashes campaigns, Clarke has regained the touch that had deserted him in South Africa, and led from the front to play a major hand in all three Australian victories.
"To play the type of cricket we have, in tough conditions, hot conditions, tough wickets - especially after coming from South Africa, the conditions have been so different - I'm rapt with the way we've performed as a group," The Age quoted Clarke, as saying.
Clarke has led the way and not just as a lone batter but as senior partner in crucial partnerships with Andrew Symonds (to win game two), Callum Ferguson (to post a competitive score in game three) and Watson on Friday as Australia's patient approach blunted the spinners.
His enthusiasm in the field has been infectious and his captaincy confident, with astute bowling changes between spinners and quicks a feature of Australia's three victories.
To top that off, Clarke has grabbed handy wickets with the ball.
Clarke claimed that, despite his obvious delight in the role, he didn't entertain the possibility of assuming it on a permanent basis.
He also fired back at former Test player Dean Jones who had written that Clarke's numbers as captain were poor.
"Hopefully 100 not out bumps that average up a bit and Deano can write something about that," he said.
His average in 10 matches as captain is now 48.50, compared with a career one-day record of 42.66.
Nielsen said that, while he would never trial an Australian captain, the series had confirmed Clarke's status as a leader. (ANI)