Clarke shelves retirement to inspire Aus
Captain Michael Clarke says he has no plans to walk away from Test cricket despite the impending doom hanging over Australia’s Ashes campaign.
Clarke has declared he’s in it for the long haul and is determined to lift Australia’s young and inexperienced side out of the mire and back to the summit.
The skipper’s ailing back has prompted speculation he could announce his retirement as early as this summer, following the return Ashes series in Australia.
But Clarke, 32, says his back isn’t affecting his performance and retirement talk is simply not true – hinting he intends to play on until his mid 30s.
Heading into the third Test at Old Trafford starting on Thursday, Australia are staring some unwanted history squarely in the face.
Losing at Manchester will consign them to seven straight Test losses – equal with their worst ever run.
It will also mean the urn stays with England for a third straight series, the first time that’s happened since the 1950s.
As skipper, Clarke knows his name will forever sit alongside those records should they come to pass.
But turning history back in Australia’s favour is what’s motivating him to play on.
“It’s extra drive I guess. It certainly gets you out of the bed in the morning. Generally around five o’clock,” Clarke said.
“I’m not retiring in the near future.
“I love the game as much now as I ever have that’s for sure. I have no intention to walk away from this game right now.
“I’m 32 and not 36 so luckily I’ve got a few years before I have that discussion.
“I’m in it to achieve all I can as captain of this team and as a player. I feel like my game still has a lot of improvement left in it.
“That’s why I come to training and work my backside off every day.
“When I think I can’t get any better and I have nothing else to give to the team then my time is finished.”
Clarke knows his team are up against it at Old Trafford.
The pitch is dry and mysteriously patchy, and he recognises his team have struggled both with spin bowling and facing spin since Shane Warne’s retirement.
Australia have won just one from their past 11 Ashes Tests on UK soil.
But Clarke says the climactic finish at Trent Bridge in the first Test, proved England aren’t unbeatable.
Australia aren’t proud of the losing streak that’s extended back to the first Test in India earlier this year, and there’s only one way to rewrite the wrongs.
“You have to try not to think about it,” he said.
“That record is irrelevant. Unfortunately, or fortunately, records are made to be broken. This is one we don’t want to break. I was part of the team that won 16 in a row, so I guess I’m seeing both sides.
“We’ve got to play better cricket but like I said after Lord’s I’m confident we can turn it around, I really am.
“I’m confident we can win these next three Test matches and win the series. I know it seems a long way away to a lot of people … but if we play our best cricket we’ll give it a good shake.”
Likely Australian team: Shane Watson, Chris Rogers, Usman Khawaja, Michael Clarke (capt), Steve Smith, David Warner, Brad Haddin, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird.
Likely England team: Alastair Cook (capt), Joe Root, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen/James Taylor, Ian Bell, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson