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Michael Clarke set to retire after nightmare Ashes campaign

AUSTRALIA captain Michael Clarke will retire at the end of the Ashes series.

Last week, one of Australia’s greatest ever batsmen was determined to continue on, however it appears the disastrous events at Trent Bridge have changed the 34-year-old’s mind that the time is right for him to step aside. It means Steve Smith looks will take over permanently as the next Australian captain for the next Test series in Bangladesh — a series where Clarke’s abilities against spin would have been useful.

Clarke has made 28 Test centuries, just one short of the legendary Sir Donald Bradman in his 114 match career. He will be sorely missed by an Australian side on the verge of an experience vacuum.

It seemed the landmark decision over Clarke’s future was set to be in the hands of selectors, but it would appear now that the skipper himself will stand down. Clarke’s average of 16.71 is the second worst by an Ashes captain after Ricky Ponting who managed just 16.14 in the 2010-11 disaster on home soil. Ponting lost his captaincy as a result of that tour and the same is set to happen to Clarke.

Clarke is going through the leanest patch of his career, but in many ways the Australian side may have needed him to continue on. A dearth of young talent and senior figures is confronting selectors, and it shapes as a difficult initiation for Smith — with up to nine Australian players unlikely to play much Test cricket beyond this series.

England showed since their disastrous whitewash defeat of 2013-14, that throwing the skipper out with the bathwater wasn’t necessarily the best solution — with Cook an Ashes winning captain again just 18 months later.

Former captain Allan Border called on selectors to back Clarke.
“I wouldn’t (hope there’d) be any knee-jerk reactions on his situation,” Border told cricket.com.au.


It hasn’t quite worked out and I understand that, but I don’t think we’re ready for that change just yet unless he thinks it’s time. He deserves the opportunity to go out on his own terms.

It seems Clarke has reached that decision, and The Oval Test shapes as his final hurrah.

Selectors are left with the stark reality that of the Ashes squad they selected, Clarke, Fawad Ahmed, Brad Haddin, Shaun Marsh, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Adam Voges, Shane Watson and the already retired Ryan Harris are all finished as Test cricketers. It’s an enormous transition and Australia will head to the spinning wickets of Bangladesh with a rookie middle order led by Smith as captain and David Warner as a likely deputy.

Teammate Mitchell Starc admits Australia let Clarke down with their performances.

“With bat and ball, apart from the Lord’s Test, we haven’t executed as well as we’ve wanted to or as well as we can,” he said.

“I think as a group we’ve just got to be better. England have shown the way, the last two weeks especially.”

In the past Australian captains Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh survived long droughts of form, although they never lost an Ashes series. Clarke has now lost four Ashes campaigns and more matches on English soil than any Australian in history.

But he will be remembered as one of Australia’s greatest players if this is indeed the end.


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