SYDNEY // Whether Michael Clarke lands the captaincy of the Australia Test side on a permanent basis could hinge out on the outcome of the fifth Test.
Ricky Ponting, the injured captain, claims he plans to return to lead the side once he has recovered from a broken finger but the selectors could decide to usher in a new era if the team respond positively to Clarke's leadership, win the Test in Sydney and draw the series.
Mitchell Johnson, the talented but sometimes erratic left-arm quick, will certainly endorse Clarke's claims to be Ponting's successor after he was restored to new ball duties.
The 29-year-old had been mainly overlooked for the new ball since his dreadful performance at Lord's in the 2009 Ashes series, when he struggled for line and length and was punished by the rampant England batsmen.
"For me ... getting the new ball, that gave me a lot of confidence," he said.
"I think my pace was up again and I did swing the ball a little bit there and use the wicket.
"I enjoyed it, that's for sure, conditions suited me to bowl with the new ball and I'm always going to put my hand up to bowl with the new ball."
Johnson said the proactive involvement of Clarke, encouraged him.
"Michael probably gets out there a little more maybe from my side of things, he came up to me and spoke to me and I think he's been doing it to most players," Johnson said.
"He sent me a message the other night saying a few nice things and make sure I'm ready.
"He's doing a great job being confident around the guys and making sure they feel like we've done a great job."
Compiled by The National staff with agency