Melbourne: In the wake of the team’s shocking quarter-final exit from the World Cup, Australian skipper Ricky Ponting on Tuesday stepped down from captaincy from Test and One Day cricket teams, but will be available for selection as a batsman in both the formats.

"I've had no tap on the shoulder from anyone. This is a decision wholly and solely from me. I thought the timing was spot on," Ponting said at a press conference in Sydney.

"All that being said, I've made it very clear to selectors that I'm available (to keep playing Test and one-day cricket for Australia)," he added.

Deputy Michael Clarke is expected to replace Ponting as skipper of the Australian Test and one-day teams.

The 36-year-old Tasmanian denied that he was forced to take the decision.

"I'll have the opportunity over the next couple of days to reflect on where things are headed for me and certainly what direction I feel things are heading for the betterment of Australian cricket," Ponting said.

"I am very proud of what I've been able to do as a leader of the Australian cricket team and I have never ever taken any opportunity or any day for granted as the captain. It's a very prestigious job and one that comes with a  lot of scrutiny and a lot of pressure but that is all part of being a leader in any walk of life," he said.

Ponting also said that he wanted to make it sure that young players like Phillip Hughes, Steve Smiths and Usman Khawajas have experienced cricketers around them so that they can benefit from seniors.

Former Australian skipper Kim Hughes said Ponting may follow in the footsteps of Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar and improve as a player after relinquishing the captaincy.

"I still feel that he possibly thinks he's got another year or two good cricket left in him at either one-day or Test cricket and maybe without the burden of the captaincy that he can do justice to that," Hughes said.

Ponting held the Australian Test and one-day captaincy since he took over from Steve Waugh.

He led Australia in 77 Tests of which 48 were wins, the most for any captain. He also captained Australia in a record 228 ODIs and won 164, including two World Cups in 2003 and 2007.

Ricky Ponting: The Road to being a legend

1974: Born December 19 in Launceston, Tasmania.

1986: At the age of 12 he signs a bat contract with Kookaburra.

1992: Scores 56 against South Australia in his first-class debut for Tasmania, aged 17.

1995: February - Makes one-day international debut for Australia against South Africa aged 20, but is bowled by Eric Simons for one.

1996: January - Makes his first ODI century with 123 against Sri Lanka.

March - At 21, becomes youngest batsman to score a World Cup century with 102 against the West Indies.

November - Promoted to number three in the Test line-up following retirement of David Boon, but three scores under 10 see him dropped.

1997: Recalled in July and records his first Test century with 127 against England at Headingley in his first Ashes innings. However, he continued to be in and out of the Test team for the next two years.

1999: A fight outside a pub in Kings Cross, New South Wales earns him a suspension, but later in the year a century against the West Indies sees him cement his place.

2002: When Steve Waugh is dropped, Ponting vaults over vice-captain Adam Gilchrist to become Australia's ODI captain. He leads the side to victory in his first match in charge against South Africa in Johannesburg.

2003: Leads the team undefeated through the 2003 World Cup for their third title, and makes an unbeaten 140 in the final.

In Test action, he scores back-to-back double centuries against India (242 at Adelaide, 257 at Melbourne) which, added to a 206 at Port of Spain against the West Indies earlier in year, make him only second man to have three in one calendar year.

2004: Steve Waugh's retirement opens the door for Ponting to assume the Test captaincy, and he wins his debut match with victory over Sri Lanka in Galle in March.

2005: September - Becomes first Australia captain since Allan Border to experience Ashes defeat as England win a thrilling series 2-1.

Ponting scores 1,544 runs in the calendar year for an Australian record.

2006: January - Becomes the only player to mark his 100th Test with a century in each innings, scoring 120 and 143no against South Africa in Sydney.

March - Scores 164 from only 105 balls in the fifth ODI against South Africa in Johannesburg, but sees the Proteas make 438 for nine in reply to Australia's 434 for four.

November - Sets tone for the 2006-07 Ashes series with an innings of 196 at Brisbane.

England make 551 for six in the second Test but Ponting leads the reply with a 142 and Australia go on to win the match - on their way to a 5-0 series whitewash. The two centuries see Ponting pass Waugh's record of 32 Test tons for Australia.

2007: April - In a World Cup match against South Africa in St Kitts, Ponting passes the 10,000-run mark in ODIs, the first Australian to reach the mark and seventh man in the world. Australia win the World Cup undefeated.

2008: January - Victory in the second Test against India makes it 16 in a row for Ponting's Australia, tying a record. India win the next Test in Perth to end the run.

In the fourth Test, Ponting makes 140 to end a spell of 13 months without a Test century.

May - Scores his 10,000th Test run against the West Indies in Antigua. Border and Steve Waugh are the only other Australians to reach the mark.

2009: June - Ponting's Australia are eliminated from the World Twenty20 in the group stages.

August - Having scored 150 in the first Test in Cardiff, Ponting's team lose another Ashes series in England as a win at The Oval gives the home side a 2-1 win. During the series he becomes the fourth man to pass 11,000 Test runs.

September - Retires from Twenty20 internationals.

October - Australia win the ICC Champions Trophy with Ponting the tournament's leading run-scorer. He becomes the third man to pass 12,000 ODI runs.

2010: January - Named by an elite panel as the world player of the decade. Scores 209 against Pakistan.

July - Becomes the second man to pass 12,000 Test runs.

October - Captains Australia to 2-0 series defeat in India.

December - Ashes series sees Ponting lose the urn to England for a third time, this time in front of Australian crowds. He struggles for runs as England win the series 3-1.

2011: February/March - After missing a 6-1 one-day series win over England through injury, Ponting returns to lead Australia in the World Cup but his century is not enough to stop them losing to India in the quarter-finals.

March 29 - Resigns as captain of Australia but says he wants to play on for the team.

Reactions

Brad Haddin, Aus wicket-keeper:

"The best thing about Ricky Ponting is no matter how he's going or how he's feeling personally, his involvement in the team and his demeanor and everything around the group doesn't change," Haddin said.
"He's a very consistent personality and he's a very consistent leader."

Allan Border, Former Australia captain:

"It's a little bit sad when a player of that calibre and quality decides to give away the captaincy. I get the feeling that the burden of captaincy in recent times may have been weighing heavily on his mind. The fact that he's given the captaincy might just bring him up to play some of his best cricket over the next couple of years."

Mark Waugh, Former Australia batsman:

"He's always been a player who's put the team before himself ... Probably the right decision.

"As far as playing on without being captain, why not? We've seen guys like Sachin Tendulkar probably being in the best form of his career probably into his late 30s and Ricky's still very fit and obviously very hungry, so he's got a lot to offer just as a player and as a backup to Michael Clarke with regard to tactics and bringing younger players on."

Michael Vaughan, Former England skipper

Respect to Ricky ponting. Never easy giving up something that you love doing. Lots of runs still in him though. Bowlers beware

Fans show support for Punter on Twitter

Sam Cook: Ricky Ponting is the most successful cricket captain in 134 years. That's impressive. Probably stepping down at the right time though.

Sunil Jalporte: Fairplay to Ricky Ponting. One of the greatest captains of all time. Fact. Giving that up must have been hard for a proud Aussie.

Japan Mehta: The emperor who ruled the world has choose to become a warrior again...Ricky ponting steps down as australian captain .... choose to step down at right time .....punter you are a true champion ......

Steven Owen: the game of cricket will not be the same without you, you have worn ur cap with pride and true Aussie grit. good luck for the future.

(JPN/Agencies)