Brisbane, Feb 2: Michael Clarke has said he feels sympathy for Steven Smith as media speculation swirls around the leadership of the Australian cricket team while the injured skipper continues his recovery.
Following Smith's elevation to the Australian vice-captaincy and successful stint at the helm during the Border-Gavaskar Test series against India while Clarke recuperated from hamstring surgery, the skipper can see parallels to the scenario four years ago involving Ricky Ponting.
Ponting relinquished Australia's Test and ODI captaincy in March 2011 following Australia's quarter-final exit at the World Cup.
After 77 Tests and 228 One-Day Internationals as skipper, he handed over to Clarke, made himself available for selection as a batsman and played a further 16 Tests and ODIs.
Clarke first captained Australia in a Test match as a stand-in for an injured Ponting in the final match of the 2010-11 Ashes series in Sydney.
Asked by a Brisbane radio station if he would be prepared to emulate Ponting and play under Smith's leadership, Clarke was unequivocal: "Most definitely I would."
"I feel for Smiddy (Smith), because I sat in his shoes when a lot of the media were trying to call for Ricky Ponting to retire," Clarke told Triple M Brisbane.
"It's certainly not personal between Smiddy and I, we've been friends for a long time and will continue to be. The people that sit above both him and I will make their decisions."
"Whatever they feel is the best eleven players, they'll pick that eleven. Whoever they feel is the best captain for the team, then they'll pick that. If my time is over as a player - or as a captain - then, you know, the game moves on," Clarke said.
"I still think I have a lot to offer the team, I still feel like I can perform and help us have success, but that's out of my hands. The most important thing for me is to get fit and healthy."Clarke is in the Queensland capital to continue his rehabilitation at the National Cricket Centre, and added that reports of a rift with Cricket Australia (CA) officials were "news to me".
"I'd like to know where it's coming from," Clarke added. "I haven't been around the team. For the last seven weeks or so I've been away from the group. I feel like my relationship with Cricket Australia, certainly with my teammates, is exceptional."