Melbourne: Former Australian skipper Steve Waugh on Monday tipped wicketkeeper-batsmen Brad Haddin or Tim Paine as future national captains as pressure intensified on incumbent Ricky Ponting.
The heat is on Ponting as he faces losing a third Ashes series, with England holding a commanding 346-run lead after the second day of the fourth Test.
In his assessment, Waugh overlooked vice-captain Michael Clarke as Ponting's heir apparent and raised the possibility of either Haddin or Paine taking over after the five-Test Ashes series, which ends in Sydney next week.
Ponting, 36, has toiled with the bat this series notching just 93 runs in the series at 15.50, while Clarke, 29, is averaging only 22.50 from his six innings against England.
"That's the burning question right now: who potentially is the next captain?" Waugh said on Nine Network television on Monday.
"Obviously, Ricky is still there right now. If he wasn't to be there tomorrow, you would assume Michael Clarke would get the role.
"He's been groomed for it; he's done it in the shorter form of the game and done pretty well. But for some reason, there's question marks over Michael Clarke."
Haddin, 33, has captained New South Wales and also led Australia in two Twenty20 matches, while Tasmanian Paine, 26, will lead the Prime Minister's XI against England in Canberra on January 10.
Waugh said he sees both as potential Australian Test captains.
"I always believe there're three or four players in the side who can captain the team but probably haven't revealed those skills because they haven't had the chance," he said.
"Haddin's had a bit of experience but the one who I think is interesting that I think about is probably Tim Paine. He gets a few mentions.
Waugh said Ponting's second innings in the fourth Melbourne Test as one of the most important of his 152-Test career.
"It's a difficult one. There's a lot of pressure and everyone's talking about his game and he'll be feeling under pressure.
"He knows that he's still capable of scoring runs and I felt the same way (towards the end of my career) - everyone's having a crack at you saying you should retire but I knew in myself that I still had some good innings left.
"But you feel like time's running out as well and the second innings here is a crucial innings.
"I mean if he doesn't score runs here, in all likelihood we'll probably lose this Test and not get the Ashes back."
But Waugh, who played 168 Tests for Australia, also had some words of advice for his successor.
"The next innings is where he's going to be walking out to the crease feeling enormous pressure.
"He just needs to say to himself: 'I've done this before, I've been there.' Just trust yourself and try and relax".