Injured Clark won't retire
Stuart Clark has conceded his international career is all but over, but says recent opportunities to captain New South Wales have convinced him to play on. Clark, who has been overlooked by national selectors since Australia's defeat at The Oval, has identified IPL and county cricket stints among his new career objectives, along with leading the Blues in the absence of first-choice skipper Simon Katich.
A back injury will prevent Clark from playing until after Christmas, but the 34-year-old paceman insists retirement is not on the agenda. The selection of Clint McKay, the rookie Victorian fast bowler, in the squad for the recent Adelaide Test against West Indies appeared to represent the final nail for Clark's international aspirations, however the lure of playing domestic cricket across three countries has proven enough incentive to persuade him to continue in the game.
"If I woke up in the morning and the desire wasn't there, I would probably give it away," Clark said. "But that's not the way I'm feeling at the moment. There probably won't be many international opportunities coming up anymore, but I still love playing for New South Wales and the idea of playing IPL and county cricket is exciting.
"There are a whole heap of new challenges out there for me. The opportunity to captain New South Wales has been fantastic. Just to see the enthusiasm in the young blokes, and remember being in their position a few years ago, is a lot of fun. This is a new experience for me and one I'm really enjoying."
Clark is hopeful the back injury sustained last week before the Sheffield Shield clash with Queensland will not prove season-ending, and he has targeted a January comeback. He then plans to take up a one year contract with Kent - the county that courted him ahead of this year's Ashes series - while exploring opportunities in the IPL.
"That is the furthest thing from my mind," he said of retirement. "It is unfortunate what has happened over the last week with my injury but hopefully given that the rehab has gone to plan, then after Christmas I will be doing some light training and getting back into it."
Australia's selectors have not completely discounted an international recall for Clark who, just four Tests ago, played a leading role in Australia's three-day victory over England at Headingley. He was named Man-of-the-Series following Australia's 5-0 Ashes rout in 2006-07, and with England's return just ten months away, there remains a slim chance he could come into calculations.
Clark, though, is aware that age and injuries are counting against him. Some within Australian cricket feel surgery to remove a bone spur from his bowling elbow last year has robbed him of a few yards of pace, and the man himself is not counting on a phone call from Andrew Hilditch's panel anytime soon. "I do agree it is looking very unlikely," he said.
Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo