SYDNEY: Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting is inspired by the way Sachin Tendulkar is playing late in his career, and said he hopes to get better with age like the 'little master'.

Ponting said the thought of retirement has not crossed his mind but it would depend a lot on how he fares in the upcoming Ashes series and World Cup early next year.

"Even at my age we can find ways to improve and I think Sachin has been a great example of that," Ponting was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.

"I think he made nine international hundreds in the last year at 37 years of age, so hopefully I can do something similar in the coming years."

"If I play well through the Ashes and well through the World Cup, then I will continue to play."

"I want to play and if there are younger guys out there that I feel I am keeping out of the team, then I will step aside," said the 36-year-old Ponting.

Ponting missed the third One-day International against Sri Lanka to be in better shape for the Ashes.

Australia managed to win the game but lost the series 1-2 to the visitors.

Ponting said he and the team management chose to use the time to prepare for Tasmania's Sheffield Shield clash with Queensland Wednesday.

"All we are trying to do is give ourselves the best chance of winning the Ashes."

"If Cricket Australia and I and the rest of the team decided it was in my best interest not to play the game, then that is all we can do," he said.

"We are trying to do the best we can to manage all our players, giving them as much first class cricket as possible," said Ponting.

Ponting said skipping the third one-dayer was already planned.

"It was a tough decision to make, the guys had lost seven games in a row," he said.

"I would have played the third game if it had been one-all, but as it was not, we were two-nil down, so I took the opportunity to come to Tassie (Tasmania) and prepare for the Shield game."

Ponting came out in support for Michael Clarke against media attempts to label the Test vice-captain as an unpopular leader within the team.

"I will support him (Clarke) as much as possible and he will support me as much as possible," he said.