Clarke announces his retirement

The Australian cricket captain has announced his retirement from Test cricket as Australia hands back the Ashes urn

Michael Clarke, Australia's 43rd Test captain and fourth highest Test run-scorer, will retire from international cricket after the fifth Ashes Test at The Oval later this month.

Clarke confirmed the news after Australia slumped to an innings-and-78-run defeat to England 40 minutes into the third morning of the fourth Test at Trent Bridge, telling former teammate and close friend Shane Warne that "the time was right".

READ: It started with a 6am text...

"As captain of the team my performances have been nowhere near the level and the standard they need to be an Australian cricketer and to be captain," Clarke said.

"The boys have worked hard, I don't blame anyone int hat change room. As a team we haven't performed as well as we needed to to beat England, and as captain I certainly haven't led from the front."

Clarke told Warne he made the decision to retire in his Nottingham hotel room after the second day's play. It followed a disastrous first day that saw Australia all out for just 60. Clarke, with scores of 10 and 13, was the only Australian to reach double figures in both innings of the Test.

He had earlier vehmently denied he was considering retiring, but changed his mind and said "it's the right time".

"I started this great game at six years of age so it's hard to walk away, there's no doubt about it, but I think it's the right time," Clarke said.

A Wide World of Sports special on Clarke's Test career (restrictions apply)

"I think as a player you build yourself up for big tournaments. The World Cup was that in one-day cricket, and Ashes cricket is that in Test matches.

"Unfortunately I haven't played as well as I would have liked and I think it's the right thing and the right time to give the Australian team and the next captain that chance to prepare for the next Ashes series."

Breaking news from Trent Bridge with the Australia skipper Michael Clarke set to announce his retirement from Test cricket after the Ashes series

Clarke told his teammates before play began at Trent Bridge this morning that his reign as skipper is over, catching several by surprise. It follows his retirement from one-day cricket that was announced on the eve of this year’s World Cup final, which Australia won. 

He was seen to be shaking his hands with his teammates at a rare team meeting called an hour before play was to resume on the third day at Trent Bridge.

This was widely interpreted as the 34-year-old breaking the news to the team, although some members of the squad were training in the nets at the time.

It had been reported that Clarke had been told by selectors that he was no longer part of the Test team’s plans after the Ashes, with a two-Test tour to Bangladesh in October to precede the Australia summer with three-Test series against New Zealand and the West Indies.

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Clarke leads the team out at Trent Bridge // Getty Images

Clarke himself has been under increasing pressure given his repeated failures with the bat, failing to reach 50 in any of his eight innings in this campaign and averaging just 16.71. 

It means that in the past 12 months he has played nine Tests and made only score in excess of 50, that being the century he scored against India at Adelaide last December just weeks after the death of his close friend and former teammate Phillip Hughes.

Clarke was asked in the wake of Australia's three-day loss at Edgbaston last week and again prior to the start of the fourth Test at Trent Bridge on Thursday, where Australia was bowled out for 60 in less than two hours, whether he would consider his future.

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Kyly and Michael Clarke after he retired // Getty Images

He said that his passion for the game remained, that he continued to train as hard and often as he had done throughout his four-year captaincy and was certain that his indifferent run of form would turn around.

And he announced clearly and unambiguously "I am not retiring".

Quick Single: Border backs Clarke to continue

But he did also concede that his future ultimately lay in the hands of the national selection panel, of which chairman Rod Marsh and team coach  Darren Lehmann are currently with the Ashes touring party.

He also claimed his lack of runs in the current Ashes series, in which he has scored 117 runs in eight innings at an average of 16.71, had not forced him to change his preparation or his outlook.

"I haven't trained any harder over the past two or three days than I would have done since I took over the captaincy," he said at Trent Bridge on Test eve.

"Since I took over the captaincy I have always come to training earlier than everyone else to make sure I get my preparation done before the team arrives.

"In life the harder you work, the luckier you become.

"I've got faith I've been working hard enough for long enough that there's a big score around the corner."

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Clarke and Smith in the field at Trent Bridge // Getty Images

But it would now appear that he will not have that chance, and that Australia will enter its upcoming ODI series in the UK and the Test commitments that follow it with a new skipper.

While that person has yet to be appointed, the role that 26-year-old Steve Smith served when Clarke was sidelined with a serious hamstring injury last summer would indicate he will start as strong favourite to be the next in in line.

Clarke has played 114 Tests for Australia, and captained them in 46 matches making him the 6th most capped skipper of his nation.

However, like Ricky Ponting before him it seems certain he will finish his career without leading Australia to an Ashes series win on British soil.

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