Australia’s under-fire captain, Michael Clarke, goes into Thursday’s fourth Ashes Test at Trent Bridge angered by suggestions his international career will be over after the series.
With his side 2-1 down, following the eight-wicket defeat at Edgbaston, the 34-year-old has faced increased scrutiny over his position after scoring only 94 runs in his six innings against England this summer, at an average of 18.8.
‘I think somebody said they could see it in my eyes that I was finished after this series,’ Clarke wrote in his column for Australia’s Daily Telegraph. ‘That’s a complete load of rubbish. To this day, I’m the first to training and the last to leave, so don’t tell me that I don’t have the desire and the hunger.’
While Clarke walked away from one-day cricket following Australia’s World Cup victory earlier the year, it is clear any change of leadership in Tests will not come through his full international retirement.
‘I have no intention to walk away from cricket,” he said. “I’m 34, not 37, and I want to keep playing for Australia beyond this series. However, I will be judged on performance, like everybody else.’
Clarke’s struggles have not been lost on Stuart Broad, who leads the England attack on his home ground in the absence of Jimmy Anderson, needing one wicket to reach 300 in Tests. Anderson, who has a side strain, has remained with the squad for Trent Bridge and will continue to feed into the plans.
Mark Wood is set to replace him after appearing untroubled when bowling in practice following a painkilling injection to alleviate ankle soreness.
The Durham fast bowler could share the new ball with Broad, who has dismissed Clarke a record 10 times in Test cricket and is plotting more early pressure for the Australia captain.
‘We obviously talk a lot about him and what plans we have for him,’ Broad said. ‘We are quite proud at the way we have bowled at him so far.
‘We have made it hard for Michael but he will be working hard to get the better of us and we know how dangerous he is. It is going to be a different attack obviously without Jimmy but we must make sure that we are right on the money for those first 20 balls.’ – The Guardian