Equally adept with bat and ball, Clarke's raw talent saw him tipped for the top from a young age.
He was one of a number of promising young stars at The Oval all vying for a place in the senior side, but it was the untimely death of friend Ben Hollioake that thrust Clarke into the limelight.
He was given his chance in the first team and grabbed it with both hands, scoring more than 700 runs at an average of over 50 during his first 10 matches in first-class cricket.
Clarke’s fine form did not go unrecognised, with a call-up to the England one-day squad for the ICC Champions Trophy reward for his impressive performances.
With England looking to rebuild the one-day side after the 2003 World Cup, Clarke was drafted in for the series against Pakistan and then against South Africa and Zimbabwe.
If his contributions with bat and ball were modest in terms of figures, he brought a vitality to the side, especially in the field where he helped make England one of the best in that department.
He went on to gain selection to the Test and one-day international squads for the winter tours to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the West Indies, making his five-day debut in Dhaka against the former.
However, Clarke was never really able to establish a place in the side.
He was recalled to the one-day fold for the NatWest Series against Pakistan in 2006, but, after failing to impress, has not been seen since on the international stage.
Clarke stepped down as Surrey vice-captain midway through the domestic season to concentrate on his own game, but illness kept him out of action for the much of the latter half of the campaign.
At the end of the season, he left to join Derbyshire as their captain on a two-year contract, but was dropped due to poor form before standing down as skipper in August.
Clarke's disappointing spell ended when he had his contract cancelled by mutual consent in September 2008, at which point he joined Warwickshire on a three-year deal.
The move appeared to rejuvenate the all-rounder and he went on to play an integral role as the club won the Clydesdale Bank 40 in 2010 before finishing second in the LV= County Championship the following season, when he also equalled the world record for the number of catches in an innings by an outfielder.