London:Australia captain Ricky Ponting has told Michael Clarke the number four position is his to keep up all the way through to the Ashes later this year.
Ponting promoted his vice-captain up the order, swapping places with Mike Hussey, in a recent warm-up game against Derbyshire.
Clarke will bat at number four in the Test match against Pakistan which starts here at Lord's on Tuesday and Ponting expects him to retain that position for the forseeable future - including the five-match series against England beginning in Brisbane in November.
That is absolutely the way it will be," Ponting told reporters at Lord's. "I had a good chat to both those guys leading into the Derby game about the reasons behind it and what I see as being the best for the team.
"That is the way it will be, not only for this series but right through the Ashes as well."
Clarke has batted at number four just seven times in a 60-Test career and averages only 16.67 in that position, as opposed to an average of over 50 batting at five.
But Ponting says his elevation is a reward for being Australia's best batsman over the last two years.
"It is about how well he has played," Ponting added. "I think his game's very well suited higher up the order against the newer ball, more than Hussey's is at the moment.
"He has been our most consistent player and that is in all conditions around the world.
"In the Ashes series over he showed in challenging times, when the ball was moving around, he can do a job up the order.
"He has developed his game over the last couple of years and when guys are playing that well you know they need to be batting as soon as possible and that is why he has moved up an extra spot."
Ponting also hinted that New South Wales leg-spinner Steven Smith and Tasmanian wicket keeper Tim Paine will make their Test debuts against Pakistan at Lord's.
Australia were beaten soundly by England at Lord's last year when several players performing at the so-called 'Home of Cricket' for the first time failed to fire.
And Ponting has told his youngsters to forget about where they are playing and concentrate on their games.
"The guys that have been here and done it before will hopefully be better for the experience of last time," he added. "We will be talking to the young guys about the enormity of the game.
"There is already enough pressure on them to be worrying about where they are playing and who they are playing in front of.
"Playing your first Test is always a special occasion. It is something I have never forgotten 140-odd Test matches later."
Ponting is still searching for his first century at Lord's - which would see his name put up on the honours board - after three attempts in Test matches.
But the veteran said he would still be satisfied with his career if he fails to make a hundred here before he retires.
"It would have been nice to get on there (the board) in an Ashes Test match," he said.
"I honestly view this ground as the same as any other I play at. You are being a bit silly if you try and put added pressure on yourself to get on the board here.
"Unfortunately my record hasn't been great here at Lord's. I have an opportunity over the next few days to try and rectify that.
"But if it doesn't happen I have made enough of them around the world to be reasonably satisfied with what has happened."