Australian Captain Clarke to Retire From One-Day Cricket
Australia captain Michael Clarke made a shock announcement on Saturday by saying Sunday’s World Cup final against New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground would be his last one-day international.
Clarke, who turns 34 next month, said it was the right time to retire from one-dayers in order to prolong his Test career and give his successor as ODI captain the opportunity to prepare fully for the next World Cup in England in 2019.
Clarke, who replaced Ricky Ponting as ODI skipper four years ago, said his priority now was to play Test cricket, which he said was the pinnacle of the sport.
He announced his impending ODI retirement at the start of his pre-match media conference on Saturday and said he had informed his team-mates, Cricket Australia, chief selector Rod Marsh and coach Darren Lehmann before making his decision public.
“I think it’s the right time for me and the Australian cricket team,” Clarke told reporters.
“I was very fortunate to get the opportunity four years ago to captain this one-day team and that was really good preparation for me leading up to this World Cup and I think the next Australian captain deserves the same opportunity,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s realistic that I will be fit and healthy and available to play in the next World Cup, so I believe it’s the right time,” added Clarke, who has struggled with back and hamstring problems.
While Clarke said it was not for him to anoint Australia’s next ODI skipper, he praised 25-year-old Steve Smith’s contribution to the current Australian team.
“Smithy has certainly matured as a player and a person,” said Clarke of the No 3, who made a superb hundred in Australia’s semi-final win over defending champions India in Sydney on Thursday.
“I don’t think it would be fair for me to say who’s going to be the next captain, that’s not my place, that’s up to the selectors.
“Smithy is certainly someone who will be spoken about.”
Clarke has played 244 ODIS, scoring 7,907 runs at an average of more than 44, with a highest score of 130.
He said he would leave the Australia one-day team in better shape than the one he inherited in 2011.
“The last World Cup we were knocked out in the quarter-final and this year’s World Cup we’ve been able to reach the final and hopefully we can go on and have success in that final.
“So two finals (Clarke played in the Australia side that beat Sri Lanka in Bridgetown in 2007) and one quarter-final in my time at the World Cup and I’m hopeful it (his one-day retirement) will prolong my Test career.
“I think by walking away from one-day cricket it probably gives me my best opportunity.”
– ‘True to myself’ –
Clarke has played in 108 Tests with 8,432 runs at an excellent average of more than 50 and a highest score of 329 not out.
“I’ve never hid behind the fact that I find Test cricket to be the pinnacle of our sport,” Clarke said.
“I am who I am, and it’s about being true to myself, and I don’t feel bad about saying that I believe that Test cricket is the toughest part of our game.
“I love T20 and one-day cricket, but I still feel I have a lot to offer the team as captain of the Australian Test team and I want to make sure that I continue to have success in that format.”
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said Clarke was leaving the one-day game as one of the greats.
“While his decision comes as something of a surprise, Michael leaves one-day cricket on his own terms, aiming to finish on an absolute high, in front of a packed MCG as a possible World Cup-winning captain. That’s very special,” Sutherland said in a statement.
“Regardless of the result, he will leave the one-day international game as one our greats.
“We thank him for his wonderful contribution to one-day cricket and look forward to his continued leadership at Test level.”
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Source: The Jakarta Globe