Ponting confident in Watson

22 December 2012 07:32:11 EST

Shane Watson will handle the role successfully if he is called on to captain Australia in the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka, says Ricky Ponting.

Ricky Ponting has backed Shane Watson.

Australia hope Michael Clarke will shake off a hamstring injury to take his place at the MCG, but he is unfit, Ponting has no worries over vice-captain Watson's ability to step up.

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Watson has played two Tests since recovering from a calf strain, and his fitness was fully examined in the Hobart Test when he was called on to bowl 47.4 overs in the match after Ben Hilfenhaus broke down.

Ponting knows all about what it takes to be a successful Australian captain, and he believes Watson does too.

''I was going to actually give him a ring today and have a chat to him about this stuff, just in case it did happen,'' he told Fairfax Media.

''Knowing what 'Watto' is like, he is a bit of a thinker, he is probably someone who is better off knowing on the morning of the game [if he's going to be captain] and not having to worry too much about the lead-up. 

"What I will say to him is exactly what Steve Waugh said to me, which is that it's important for Shane to get himself prepared as a batsman, first and foremost, and let your instincts when you're out on the field take over."

Watson has captained Australia in eight ODIs, winning four of them.

Ponting said: "He has been around a lot, played in a lot of successful teams, and played with a lot of good leaders, so I am sure he will handle the situation well if it's presented.

''The fact he got the chance to do it in the one-dayers recently will give him more confidence with it. 

I am sure he will handle the situation well if it's presented.

Ricky Ponting

"He has been very conscious about growing his leadership skills through the last three or four years, knowing that opportunities like this might have presented themselves down the track. 

 "The way things are going, there's a chance he might be leading the team on Boxing Day and I think he will do a fine job.''

Although Watson has not scored a Test century for more than two years, he scored one of his two Test hundreds on the ground against Pakistan in 2009.

Australia are 8/13 to win the second Test, with Sri Lanka available at 5/1.

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