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Clarke foreshadows his retirement

Daniel Brettig

May 25, 2012

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Michael Clarke reflects on a tough day in the field, Australia v Sri Lanka, Commonwealth Bank Series, 2nd final, Adelaide, March 6, 2012
Michael Clarke: "I'm enjoying playing now but in time I won't be the guy playing at 38, 39, 40" © Getty Images
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Australia's captain Michael Clarke has foreshadowed his retirement from the game, saying he has no desire to play into his late 30s as Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey and others have done. Addressing a business conference in Adelaide, Clarke said he wished to have his impact on the game "in a short space of time" and then move on to other pursuits.

Clarke, 31, has led Australia with distinction over his first year in charge of the team, and has the chance to achieve critical goals over the next 18 months: victory over South Africa at home, India away, and the return of the Ashes to Australia over back-to-back series against England may all be achieved in that time, and all this would also serve to return Clarke's team to the top of the world rankings. Beyond those encounters lies the 2015 World Cup in Australia, though Clarke hinted strongly that he may not make it that far.

"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."

As a captain, Clarke has often been paralleled with Mark Taylor, another Australian captain of great tactical skill. Taylor did not overstay his welcome as a captain, retiring after retaining the Ashes at home in early 1999, aged only 34.

One factor that will play a role in Clarke's thinking regarding how long he will continue is the back trouble that he has managed across his career. While Clarke has never missed a Test match because of the degenerative discs found in his back when he was 17, he is conscious that the condition cannot improve. "Unfortunately degeneration, it can't improve, so it's now about managing my condition," he said.

A very private ceremony wedded Clarke to his fiancé Kyly Boldy in the Blue Mountains earlier this month, and the secrecy surrounding the event was in keeping with their low-key courtship following his far more public engagement and break-up with Lara Bingle. Clarke said he remained uncomfortable with eyes prying into his private life.

"We told nobody, our parents didn't know," Clarke said. "We invited a small group of people to come away on a holiday with us - they thought it was a family holiday. And we shocked our family, let alone the world.

"I think I find the scrutiny on the field quite easy to deal with ... the stuff that I have probably found hard, and still find hard to accept, is the off the field stuff. When I was vice-captain I had a lot of media scrutiny anyway, so I was accustomed to the off the field stuff, nothing has really changed as captain."

Clarke's next assignment will be to lead the Australian ODI team on a tour of England and Ireland in June and July.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by popcorn on (May 28, 2012, 23:56 GMT)

George Bailey is by far the best Captain Tassie has ever had. It is a shame that he has been briought into the Aussie ODI and T20 Side only recently. Credit to John Inverarity and his co selectors that they have made him Captain of the Aussie T20 side,and he is also in the ODI Squad.George Bailey could be a future Captain of Australia's Test and ODI sides too after Michael Clarke retires,but he is nearing 30,Clarke is 31,so when will he be given the Captaincy? Over Shane Watson? He is 31 too.When George Bailey is away playing for Australia,Tim Paine could captain Tassie.Tim Paine is 27 years old,hence,looking ahead,I think he will be at the RIGHT age to take over from Michael Clarke / Shane Watson / George Bailey - provided he is groomed for Captaincy this summer.

Posted by popcorn on (May 28, 2012, 10:11 GMT)

I agree with @Meety about Punter. Not enough credit is given to him. Ricky Ponting is the most winningest Captain ever.Tests,World Cups,Champions Trophies.It isn't as if he just turned up,tossed the ball to Warne or McGrath and winning happened as a routine. Ponting played his part with shrewd bowling changes and field placements,excellent batting at the crucial No.3 position,brilliant catching and throwing,and set benchmarks in fitness, training,batting and fielding.Just think - Australia beat England 5 nil in the 2006 - 07 Ashes series under his captaincy. The last time that happened was 85 years ago.He led an inxperienced side to South Africa after South Africa had beaten us at home and beat South Africa in South Africa. When Michael Clarke does retire compare him with Ricky Ponting and Allan Border.All three had to build their Teams.

Posted by Meety on (May 28, 2012, 0:10 GMT)

@jmcilhinney - IMO, Ponting was a reasonably good captain who eventually succumbed to the pressures of the transistion form running a star studded team to basically mere mortals. The only other player I think that can say he knows what it was like to walk in Punters shoes is Richie Richardson. He was brilliant, but in the end couldn't handle bridging the gap between being top dog & not so strong. I think its all part of the context when viewing Punter, - people do forget he was a brilliant ODI captain & won 2 world cups, (as captain) without strike weapons in Warne & Lee. When it came to tests, I just wished Ponting would be more like his nickname. BTW - I agree, there was no way Clarke was bagging players who play into their 30s or 40s.

Posted by popcorn on (May 27, 2012, 23:47 GMT)

I think Michael Clarke is being unfair to Cricket Australia and to us - the cricketing public who have so much expectation from this bright young star. Pup has been the Captain -in Waiting for so many years under Ricky Ponting. He is the great hope we have to see Australia dominate World Teat and ODI Cricket for 5 years at least. By saying he may not be around for the ODI World Cup in 2015, he has just two years to prove himself. The Ashes in England are in June July 2013, and the return Ashes in Australia are in December 2013 -2014. So is that ALL his target? Worse still,his understudy Shane Watson as vice captain IS OF THE SAME AGE! And Watson has had only a short stint as Captain of the ODI Squad! Michael Clarke, we need a DOMINANT IMPACT -AT LEAST TWO MORE ASHES SERIES - which means you stay on as Captain till 2017. We don't know Watson's plans either.He is injury prone too. So who do we groom? George Bailey? Tim Paine? Peter Forrest? Dave Warner? They need to captain State sides.

Posted by Vincent49 on (May 27, 2012, 21:50 GMT)

I thinks he's thinking about retirementent because he's in love. Simple as that.

Posted by bharath74 on (May 27, 2012, 15:15 GMT)

I dont think he will be fit Like Tendulkar or Ricky to be able to play at 40. Shane Watson deserves to be the captain rather than Clark

Posted by anurag70 on (May 27, 2012, 13:53 GMT)

A "Clarke" class..... ..........

Posted by mukesh_LOVE.cricket on (May 27, 2012, 9:06 GMT)

Clarke is such a great cricketer , the way he has turned around the struggling Australian team was just INCREDIBLE . he says what he believes and do whats best for the team ,along with mahela he has one of the best cricketing minds , way to go man , keep up the good work.

Posted by Cricket4World on (May 27, 2012, 8:29 GMT)

Quite disrespectful to the Baggy Green, I think. Australian cricketers will do anything to win a cap. To say he is willing to give it all away in a short space of time after he has his impact on the game is just selfish. Clarke wants to be remembered for the "best captain since Taylor". I suspect his Test team would struggle without Ponting and Hussey, two players who give everything to the Baggy Green.

Posted by neerajprasher on (May 27, 2012, 8:06 GMT)

Who cares.you can retire tom.BTW you wont survive wen 38 39 40

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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