Ricky Ponting resigns as Australia captain

Ricky Ponting today relinquished the Australian captaincy and immediately trained his sights on reclaiming the Ashes on English soil in two years' time.

In announcing his decision at a press conference in Sydney, the 36-year-old confirmed he intends to play on for Australia and predicted his form could improve without the pressure of the captaincy.

Despite being his country's most successful skipper of all time, with 48 victories in 77 Tests, his record of three Ashes series defeats is damaging, and Ponting admits he is keen to atone for that unwanted statistic.

"I think it'll keep me a bit mentally fresher than I have been in the last couple of years," Ponting said of the prospect of being involved in the 2013 series in England.

"And I think that if I'm mentally fresh and have got my skills in reasonable order then I'll be able to certainly bat better than I have in the past six months.

"So I won't ever write that off because I'd love to go back there again and give it a crack at winning another Ashes series in England, but we'll wait and see how my form is in the immediate future."

Ponting, who has backed Michael Clarke to take on the leadership role in the wake of his departure, defended his record as skipper and criticised the media's fixation on those three Ashes defeats.

"I'd like to think that through my playing time I've achieved a whole lot more than that," said Australia's most prolific run-scorer, who steps down after nine years as one-day captain and seven years as Test skipper.

"It's funny how we talk about losing the Ashes three times.

"Playing in three World Cup-winning teams never comes up very often, winning 16 consecutive Test matches doesn't come up very often, winning 30-odd consecutive World Cup games doesn't come up very often, but that's the world we live in.

"I know within myself and my team-mates know and everyone at Cricket Australia knows what I've been able to achieve in the game, and that's what I'm very proud of.

"The things that I've been able to achieve as a captain and as a player and with the players that I've played with are memories that I'll never forget."

The news of Ponting's retirement had been widely anticipated and came just days after he arrived back in Australia following his side's World Cup quarter-final defeat to co-hosts India.

That loss, which came despite a Ponting century, ended Australia's run of three consecutive world crowns - the last two of which were secured under Ponting's captaincy.

He said: "I've had the chance to think long and hard about it.

"The main reason for me is that I think it's the right time - getting through the Ashes series the way that we did and the World Cup now being over.

"I wanted to make sure I gave the next captain every opportunity I possibly could to make sure he had enough experience going forward into the next couple of big events that we play, which will be the one-day Champions Trophy within two years and of course an Ashes series coming up in 2013-14, so I just felt it was an opportune time."

Vice-captain Clarke is expected to be confirmed as the new Test and one-day international captain, and Ponting sees him as ideal for the role.

"Absolutely. I totally think that's the way it'll go," Ponting said.

"I totally would endorse Michael Clarke as captain.

"I've spoken to Michael this morning. I've spoken to most of the senior players this morning as well, and the coach and a couple of my closer mates.

"I think Michael was quite surprised about the decision I've made. He said he wished he had have known this a little bit earlier so he might have been able to help out in a few different ways if he could have throughout the World Cup campaign."

Ponting, who led the team in 228 one-day internationals and had a winning record of 76.38%, stressed he had not been pushed to resign.

"I've had no tap on the shoulder from anybody," he said. "This has been a decision made by me."

During his resignation statement, Ponting insisted he would be ready to help the new captain, if asked.

"I'll be sitting in the corner of the dressing rooms, like everybody else, and I'll be waiting for someone to come and ask me for advice," he said.

"It's my turn to step away and completely hand over to the next captain.

"I'm looking forward to continuing doing my best for Cricket Australia, for Australian cricket, and for the Australian cricket team. I want to continue to lead by example on and off the field, for my team-mates and for future cricketers coming on."

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