Melbourne, Apr 20: All-rounder Shane Watson has resigned as vice-captain of Australia in all formats of the game as he wants to focus on batting.
Commenting on the decision on Saturday, Watson said: "Making the decision to step down wasn't easy but it's something I've been thinking about since the Test series against India ended."
Watson was one of the four players axed from the squad for breaching team orders during the Test series in India. That had led to speculation that Watson might quit Test cricket. However, after returning to Australia during the series for the birth of his first child, he came back and played the fourth and final Test which Australia lost and were whitewashed 0-4.
"I think it's the right time for a change for both the team and me. I'll be honest and admit I wrestled with the decision for some time, however once I made up my mind, I informed Cricket Australia so the selectors could consider their options for the Ashes given the squads will be announced soon.
"I want to be the best Test player I can be for Australia and think I can do that by stepping down from the vice-captaincy to focus my attention on scoring runs, taking wickets and doing whatever is necessary to help the team achieve success. I won't be the vice-captain in title but I think I can still be a leader and strong contributor around the group," Watson, who is currently playing for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, added.
"Yesterday I rang John Inverarity, Mickey Arthur and Michael Clarke to advise them of my decision and they respect that decision and agree with me that this is the best outcome for me and the team.
"I thank Cricket Australia for the leadership opportunity over the past two years and I'm really looking forward to this next phase. In my conversations with Mickey and Michael I reaffirmed my commitment to the team and support for them as we fight to win back the Ashes and get back to being ranked number one in the world," Watson said.
Cricket Australia National Selector John Inverarity said: "Shane Watson should be commended for making the tough call to step down from the vice-captaincy to focus on playing. Regardless, he will still be an important senior leader within the team.
"The National Selection Panel (NSP) will now consider and then put a vice-captaincy recommendation to the Cricket Australia Board for its approval."