Melbourne: Australia captain Michael Clarke has followed into his predecessor Ricky Ponting’s footsteps and decided to announce his retirement on the eve of a very important cricketing assignment.
G’bye ODIs: Skipper Michael Clarke acknowledges the crowd after Australia’s semi-final win over India in Sydney on Thursday. Pic/Getty Images
On the eve of the third and final Test against South Africa at Perth on November 30, 2012, Ponting announced his retirement from Test cricket raising eyebrows regarding the timing of the call as it shifted the world’s focus from the deciding final Test (after the previous two at Brisbane and Adelaide had ended in draws) onto him.
‘An honour to lead Oz’
On Saturday, at the pre-match press conference on the eve of today’s World Cup final against New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Clarke announced that he will be quitting ODI cricket after the finale. “Tomorrow will be my last ODI game for Australia. I’m extremely thankful and grateful. I’ve just found out that tomorrow will be my 245th one-day game and it’s been an honour and privilege to represent my country for that amount of games. I think it’s the right time for me and the Australian team. I was very fortunate four years ago to get the opportunity to captain this one-day team. That was really good preparation for me leading up to this World Cup. I think the next Australian captain deserves the same opportunity,” said Clarke, who has played 244 ODIs scoring 7,907 runs at an average of 44.42. Of the 73 matches he’s led the team in, Australia have won 49, with the prospect of a fine half century of victories as skipper looming large today.
The pressure though will be on the 33-year-old across the next 24 hours. Clarke has not had the best run with the bat in a tournament which he entered with a back injury. Consequently, he sat out the first match against England, and began his leadership with a defeat to New Zealand. Coincidentally, he will end his reign against the same trans-Tasman rivals. Clarke scored just 12 against the Kiwis before following it up with 68, 47, 8 and 10 against Sri Lanka, Scotland, Pakistan (quarter-final) and India (semi-final) respectively.
“I’ll leave the one-day game with the Australian team in a better place than when I took over captaincy. The last World Cup, we were knocked out in the quarter-final. This time, we’ve made the final and hopefully tomorrow we can go on and have success in that final. So, two finals and one quarter-final for my time in World Cups, and I’m hopeful it will prolong my Test career as well.
“I’ve never hid behind the fact that I find Test cricket to be the pinnacle of our sport,” added Clarke, who first tasted World Cup glory in 2007 under Ponting.
Incidentally, Ponting ended his Test reign on a disappointing low, managing to score just four and eight respectively as South Africa beat Australia by 309 runs to win the three-match series 1-0. Clarke will be hoping history does not repeat itself in this context.