Clarke takes up reins from injured Ponting despite dreadful form

Australia yesterday appointed as captain a man who is known as Pup and has made 148 runs in the entire Ashes series so far. With the Ashes already lost, Michael Clarke will replace the injured Ricky Ponting for the fifth Test which begins in Sydney next Monday.

Although Australia have already lost the Ashes after their stunning defeat in Melbourne, which put England 2-1 ahead, they can still draw the series by winning the final match. The decision to elevate Clarke from the vice-captaincy despite his woeful form indicates that the selectors are not bent on regime change despite the overwhelming feeling of the public. The only hint of long-term revision of opinion is that wicketkeeper Brad Haddin will be Clarke's deputy in the Test match.

Clarke, who got his nickname when he first came into the side at the age of 23 when it was full of legends, will also be captain in the one-day series following the Ashes. But the selectors made it clear Ponting will return for the World Cup in February by which time his fractured left little finger will have healed.

Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of Australia's selectors, said: "With Ricky being unavailable for this match we are sure that both Michael and Brad will lead this Australian side with great professionalism and the full support of the team as we strive for a victory in Sydney. We look forward to Ricky completing his recovery and leading this team to a fourth successive ICC Cricket World Cup on the sub-continent at the completion of the Australian summer."

Clarke has had a series every bit as poor as Ponting who made only 113 runs in his eight innings at an average of 16.14. He broke his finger in the third Test at Perth when attempting to hold a catch at second slip and may have aggravated it by playing in the fourth at Melbourne. X-rays yesterday showed the damage had worsened.

His absence means that the Pakistan- born Sydneysider, Usman Khawaja, will make his debut, probably in Ponting's number three spot. If he succeeds there can be no doubt that even if Ponting returns to lead the Test side again he will drop down the order.

The selectors have resisted wholesale changes despite their obvious predicament or, indeed, virtually any change at all. Khawaja aside, the only other amendment is the inclusion in their 12-man squad of Doug Bollinger, who was patently short of fitness in the second Test, for the injured Ryan Harris. It may all be misplaced faith.

While most of the country appears to think Ponting should step down, there is no obvious successor and the idea of handing the permanent job to Clarke in his present form is unthinkable even to this bunch of selectors, who appear at times to have lost the plot. Should Clarke, who averages 21 in the series, get runs in Sydney that might complicate the issue. But there is the concern that Clarke may not have the backing of the dressing room.

Khawaja, 24, was born in Islamabad, and has had two accomplished seasons in the Sheffied Shield. He scored 698 runs at 63.45 last year and although he has not reached three figures this season since a highly lauded 214 for New South Wales on the opening day, he is still averaging above 50.

But for Australia to square the series Pup must become a mongrel.

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Life and Style
Men with beards rejoice: Your beard probably doesn't harbour faeces-like bacteria
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before