Australia captain Ricky Ponting has hailed Michael Clarke's spectacular batting form this year, and added that Oz captain's evolvement as leader of the team was another reason behind him deciding to retire.
Clarke has enjoyed a dream year, thumping 1358 runs in nine Tests at an amazing average of 104.46.
Clarke heads into the first Test against Sri Lanka, starting on Friday, within striking distance of legendary Don Bradman's total.
The incomparable Bradman is 10th on Australia's Test run scoring list, having plundered 6996 runs from only 52 Tests at the remarkable average of 99.94.
Clarke will go past Bradman with a big series against Sri Lanka, needing 324 runs in three Tests to move inside Australia's top 10.
Clarke's imperious form drew praise from recently retired Ponting, who believes his successor has gone to another level since taking on the captaincy.
"From the 300 he got in Sydney last year, I don't think I have seen anyone for a long-time dominate like he's dominated in the last 10 months," News.com.au quoted Ponting, as saying.
"It is only six or seven Tests but what he's done has been amazing. Three or four double hundreds in the year and a triple is remarkable batting," he added.
"He's come along in leaps and bounds as a player and as a leader in the past 12 months and that's another reason why I've (retired), knowing the team is in good hands and heading in the right direction," he said.
Clarke, who plays his 87th Test tomorrow, has amassed 6673 runs at 51.73, and Ponting believes he still has room for improvement.
"That part of him (the leadership component) is probably still evolving. Even by his own admission right now he's probably not the leader he can become," Ponting said.
"He will keep learning and if he keeps playing the way he is then that will help him with his leadership and captaincy as well," he added. (ANI)