Nottingham: Australia captain Michael Clarke said Saturday he would retire from international cricket after the fifth Ashes Test against England at The Oval later this month. (England Thrash Australia to Regain Urn)
The 34-year-old Clarke made his announcement after England completed a crushing innings and 78 run victory over Australia in the fourth Test at Trent Bridge to take an unbeatable 3-1 lead in the five-match Ashes series.
“I will have one more Test and that is the end of my career,” said Clarke during the post-match presentation ceremony. (Ponting Predicts Up to Eight Aussies to Get Test Sacking)
“I am retiring from international cricket. I don’t want to jump ship now so I will have one more go at The Oval,” he added after reports in Australian media earlier Saturday that he was about to end his Australia career.
The fifth Test starts at The Oval, in south London, on August 20.
The 34-year-old Clarke, one of the best batsmen of his generation but plagued by a longstanding back problem and more recent hamstring trouble, is in a desperate run of form, having reached 25 just six times in his last 30 Test innings.
Clarke has made 28 Test centuries, one short of Australia batting great Donald Bradman’s tally, in his 114-match career.
England captain Alastair Cook paid tribute to his opposite number by saying: “To Michael from the England team you were a fantastic player, fantastic leader. You should be remembered as a great captain.”
Saturday’s defeat saw Clarke become the first Australian in more than a century to lose four successive Ashes series in England.
Clarke averages just 16.71 in eight innings this Ashes, with a top score of 38 and, as a consequence, his career Test average has dropped below 50.
– ‘Right time’ –
He retired from one-day international cricket after leading Australia to World Cup glory on home soil earlier this year, with Clarke saying he had made the decision in order to prolong his Test career.
One of the few major targets left for Clarke would have been to win a Test series in England, having previously been on the losing side during Australia’s tours in 2005, 2009 and 2013.
But this is one achievement that will now elude him.
“There’s no doubt I’ll always hold myself accountable, my performances haven’t been anywhere they need to be,” said Clarke.
“I don’t blame anyone in the changing room, but I haven’t led from the front.
“I started this great game at six years of age and I think it’s the right time to walk away now to give Australia the time to prepare for the next Ashes series.
“When I first came into the team I had 11 older brothers helping me get into a position where I can help the team and hopefully I’ve done that.
“There’s no doubt we’ll bounce back — it will take a lot of hard work, but the potential is there and the work ethic is there. I’ll keep the faith, that’s for sure.”
Clarke, in a separate interview with Australia’s Channel Nine, added: “It’s the right time. It’s time for the next generation. You never want to walk away but my performances over the past 12 months have not been acceptable to me.
“I made a decision last (Friday) night after I got home after the day’s play.
“The boys were surprised, I don’t think they expected me to walk away right now. I owe the game everything,” said Clarke, whose side were skittled out for just 60 in their first innings at Trent Bridge.
Heir apparent Steven Smith, seen talking to selection chief Rodney Marsh before the start of Saturday’s play, is now set to become Australia’s captain for their next Test series in Bangladesh in October.