Sydney: Michael Clarke should be groomed to take over from Ricky Ponting as Australia's next cricket captain, according to retired spinner Shane Warne.
Warne said the Australian selectors should ditch Adam Gilchrist as vice-captain and give the job to Clarke to help prepare him to eventually take over from Ponting.
"To me the next logical step is to groom him. I believe the best way to do this would be to elevate him to the vice-captaincy in all forms of the game," Warne wrote in his weekly column for Sydney's Daily Telegraph on Thursday.
"Gilly has done a wonderful job but won't be around for too much longer in all forms of the game. I reckon he will hang the gloves up and decide to play only one form, probably Test matches.
"That would mean Pup (Clarke) would learn about the other issues involved away from the field and attend meetings with Cricket Australia, have input with Ricky about selection - to be there in support if Ricky wants to bounce some ideas around."
Clarke captained Australia for the first time in Tuesday's Twenty20 match against New Zealand in Perth and Warne said he was highly impressed by what he saw.
"When you win the toss, hit the first ball you face for four and win the match in your first game as national skipper, you would have to think it's not a bad start," Warne said.
"He has all the attributes and the image, flair, confidence in his own ability, respect for the game and respect from his teammates which has been earned. He knows himself, understands his own game and is hungry for success.
"There is a long way to go until Ricky, who is the best batsman in the world right now, gives it away. And there is a lot that can happen between now and then.
"But Clarke is settled in his life at the moment. Off the field with Lara, and on the field, he's in a good space. Feeling fresh, prepared and happy, is what performing at top level sport-business is all about."
Ponting rejects Warne's appeal..: Meanwhile the incumbant Aussie skipper Ponting has rejected former team-mate Shane Warne's appeal to make Michael Clarke as Test and ODI vice-captain in place of Adam Gilchrist.
Ponting said Clarke had grown into a leader over the past year but he would be considered for the position only if he maintained his performances of the past 12 months.
''I don't necessarily agree with (Warne),'' Ponting said.
''I don't think that needs to be the case right now. Gilly's not going to play forever, we're all not going to play forever, but Michael's opportunity is going to come,'' Ponting was quoted as saying by the local media.
Warne has strongly recommended Clarke for the post of vice-captain, saying it was time to groom him. ''The best way to do this would be to elevate him to the vice-captaincy in all forms of the game,'' the spin legend wrote in his Herald Sun column.
''He has all the attributes and the image, flair, confidence in his own ability, respect for the game and respect from his team-mates, which has been earned. He knows himself, understands his own game and is hungry for success.''
But his appeal was rejected outright by Ponting. ''The day will come when Michael will get his opportunity. It might not be right now, it might not be six months' time, but that opportunity will come and he will step into the vice-captain's role.''
''Hopefully I can stay around for another few years and keep him out of my position for a bit longer.'' Michael Clarke had done well while captaining Australia during the Twenty20 match against New Zealand on Tuesday, fuelling speculations that he will eventually take over the mantle of captaincy after the retirement of Ricky Ponting.