Clarke had been Twenty20 skipper since October 2009 when Ponting, whose broken finger allowed Clarke to lead the Test side for the first time in Sydney, quit the Twenty20 arena.
However, Clarke only passed fifty once in 34 Twenty20 internationals, and despite captaining the Aussies to the World Twenty20 final in 2010, where they lost to England, his tournament average (15.33) and strike rate (80.70) were significantly inferior to the other specialist batsmen.
Reflecting after Australia's Ashes series defeat, in which he only scored 193 runs at an average of 21.44, he explained: "Looking back on this series, my Test cricket isn't where I want it at the moment so I guess this gives me the opportunity now to focus wholly and solely on Test and one-day international cricket.
"I'll use that time to play more domestic and first-class cricket for New South Wales, and become a better Test player.
"I've always said Test cricket is the ultimate for me, and this gives me that opportunity."
After losing his first Test as captain by an innings and 83 runs, he added: "England certainly deserve to have won this series as they've outplayed us in every facet of the game - they even caught as well as I've seen any team catch.
"They planned really well and adapted to Australian conditions, but we couldn't execute our skills for long enough and England were the complete opposite.
"Being one of the leaders of this group, I've got to be one of the leading run-scorers and I didn't score enough runs.
"We're feeling the pain - I remember it from losing the Ashes in England in 2005, and it hurts even more in your own country - but it will make us stronger."
Big-hitting White is a limited-overs specialist
But with Ponting injured, Clarke is likely to lead Australia in the seven one-day internationals against England that follow the Twenty20s, in the lead-up to the World Cup, although that squad has not yet been named.
The Twenty20 squad includes only three players - Mitchell Johnson, Steve Smith and Shane Watson - who featured in the Test series.
Hard-hitting Victoria skipper White has only played four Tests but has plenty of international limited-overs experience, having featured in 72 one-day internationals and 23 Twenty20 internationals since his debut in 2005.
He held the world record highest individual Twenty20 score - 141 not out for Somerset against Worcestershire in 2006 - until it was beaten by Brendon McCullum's unbeaten 158 for Kolkata Knight Riders in the opening game of the first Indian Premier League in 2008.
Chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said: "Michael did an outstanding job as leader of our Twenty20 team, but we are confident that Cameron and Tim will provide outstanding leadership."
Australia squad for Twenty20 internationals against England: Cameron White (capt), Tim Paine (wk & vice-capt), Aaron Finch, David Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Stephen O'Keefe, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Shaun Tait, David Warner, Shane Watson.
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