Clarke calls time on glittering career
Australia captain Michael Clarke fought back the tears as he revealed that he would retire from international cricket at the end of his side's unsuccessful Ashes campaign.
Clarke made the announcement immediately after England's innings and 78-run win at Trent Bridge, which ensured the little urn would return to these shores.
The 34-year-old will therefore pull on a Baggy Green cap for the very last time at the Kia Oval in a fortnight's time and end a decorated career that has seen him lift the game's greatest titles as captain.
Clarke retired from 50-over cricket as a World Cup winner in March and presided over Australia's 5-0 Ashes whitewash 18 months ago.
But one of the few missing prizes from his CV was an away Ashes series success and, after failing to win in England for the fourth time in his career, Clarke admitted his own faltering form had been at the heart of his side's loss and his decision to retire.
"There is no doubt I will always hold myself accountable as captain of the team," he said.
"My performances have been nowhere near the level and standard they need to be to be an Australian cricketer and captain.
"I started this great game at six years of age and I think it's the right time to walk away now to give Australia the time to prepare for the next Ashes series.
"You never want to walk away but my performances over this series and recent months have not been acceptable to me.
"I pride myself on leading from the front. I tried my best, so did the boys, but we got beaten and now is the time for the next generation of players and captain to get ready for the next Ashes."
Clarke has battled a back problem for the whole of his career, which has inhibited him more acutely in recent times.
He was unable to play in the Champions Trophy in England before the Ashes two years ago due to the problem and was cast into a race against time to be fit for this year's World Cup after tearing a hamstring in the first Test against India.
Steven Smith took over in his absence in that series, leading Australia to victory, and is likely to take charge for their upcoming tour of Bangladesh.
Clarke, who sits fifth on Australia's list of Test century-makers, revealed he only made the decision last night.
"The time is right," he told Channel 9.
"I want to play the last Test at The Oval and give it one more crack. I'll take so many memories away but I'm looking forward to sitting and cheering the boys on.
"It's time for the next generation. You never want to walk away but my performances over the past 12 months have not been acceptable to me.
"I made a decision last night after I got home after the day's play. I didn't know until I made the decision.
"The boys were surprised, I don't think they expected me to walk away right now. I owe the game everything."
England skipper Alastair Cook paid tribute to Clarke, adding: "From the England team, you have been a fantastic player and a fantastic leader, it is obviously a tough moment but you should be remembered as a great captain and a fantastic cricketer."
A lot of respect on the England balcony for Michael Clarke... pic.twitter.com/iIx1giBC0v — James Anderson (@jimmy9) August 8, 2015
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