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Stubborn Clarke digs his heels in

August 4th, 2015 | by admin
Stubborn Clarke digs his heels in

Australia’s captain Michael Clarke has delivered an impassioned statement of desire to carry on after this Ashes series, rebuking suggestions he is near the finish line as “a complete load of rubbish”.

Speculation has abounded this week that Clarke is close to the end, and the Fairfax columnist Andrew Webster went as far as to say that the fact he was reaching the endgame for his career was written all over his face. “His expression with each cheap dismissal is undeniable,” Webster wrote. “It is a blank expression of utter bewilderment. He isn’t annoyed but lost.”

Clarke could not countenance any questioning of his hunger to keep going, and pointed out that at 34 he may well have plenty of cricket left in him. In his own column for the Daily Telegraph, Clarke countered that he had absolutely no intention of leaving the game.

“People are talking about how I’m going to retire after this series, well they don’t know me,” Clarke wrote. “A big reason for me retiring from one-day cricket was to prolong my Test career, and I still love playing and competing at the highest level.

“People can certainly have a shot at me about my performance, but they can’t have a shot at me about my desire and my will to play this great game – whether that be for Australia, NSW or Western Suburbs. To this day, I’m the first to training and the last to leave, so don’t tell me that I don’t have the desire and the hunger.

“I have no intention to walk away from cricket. Chris Rogers waited until 35 years of age to play his second Test. I’m 34 not 37 and I want to keep playing for Australia beyond this series, however I will be judged on performance like everyone else.”

Should Clarke carry on playing and continue to struggle for runs, there is a real possibility that he will be dropped from the side, the first Australian captain to experience such an indignity in Test matches since Bill Lawry in 1971. In more recent times, Steve Waugh and Mark Taylor were both dropped when leading the ODI team.

Clarke’s public pronouncements about his future have waxed and waned over the years. In 2012 he told a business lunch in Adelaide that he had no intention of playing on into his late 30s, something he now appears to have changed his mind about.

“I’m enjoying playing now but in time I won’t be the guy playing at 38, 39, 40,” Clarke said. “I hope I can have my impact in a short space of time and then be finished. I have so many goals I want to see this team achieve and when my time is up, it is up.

“I would love to see the team have success, achieve what it can achieve. And then I think that is time for me to give the reins to somebody else and go and start the other side of life I guess … get involved in some sort of business and have a family, and do all the things that are special to me and I still want to do when my cricket career is over.”

Earlier this year, Clarke stated midway through Australia’s successful World Cup campaign that he may yet keep going until the 2019 edition of the tournament. However by the eve of the final, Clarke had reasoned that it was time to give up playing the 50-over game. It remains to be seen how his pronouncements about Test cricket will stand up if Australia lose at Trent Bridge.


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