Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Australia captain Michael Clarke has announced that he will be retiring from ODIs after the World Cup final against New Zealand on March 29.
Clarke, who made his ODI debut in 2003, took over the captaincy when Ricky Ponting stepped down after the 2011 World Cup.
However, Clarke confirmed that he will continue playing Tests since that is the format he enjoys most and wants to continue playing.
“I think it’s the right time for me and the Australian cricket team,” Clarke said. “I made the decision 48 hours ago, when I asked myself if I thought I would be playing in the next World Cup and I said to myself that I don’t think I will be.
“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 and I think the next Australian captain deserves the same opportunity.
“It’s obviously a priority for me to continue to be successful in the Test format. By walking away from one-day cricket, it probably gives me my best opportunity.
“I don’t feel bad about saying I feel that Test cricket is the toughest part of our game.
“I love that challenge, I see it as the pinnacle. I feel like I’ve still got a lot to offer the Australian Test team as captain.”
While Clarke hinted that Steve Smith could succeed him as ODI captain, he refused to say much more about the topic.
“Smithy has certainly matured as a player and a person,” he said. “But I don’t think it would be fair for me to go into who is going to be the next captain. It’s not my place, it’s up to the selectors.”
Since 2011, Clarke has captained Australia in 73 ODIs and if his side triumph over New Zealand in the World Cup final, it will be his 50th ODI win as skipper.
However, New Zealand hold a small advantage over Australia heading into the final since they beat the Baggy Greens by one wicket in a thrilling match on February 28.
Despite this, Clarke remains confident that his side can get the job done.
“New Zealand have been the form team of the competition and beaten us once in this tournament, but I’m confident that, if we play our best, we can beat them tomorrow,” he said. “It’s a special game, no doubt about it, but it needs to be about the team and I want it to be about the team.
“I’ve just said it to my teammates. And I’ve been the one to come out and say, it’s not emotion, it’s skill that helps you win major games and major tournaments, and tomorrow will be no different.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for every single player in that changing room to walk out onto the MCG in a World Cup final. It’s a very special event but it’s no more special because it’s my last game.”
Meanwhile, Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland congratulated Clarke on his ODI career and wished the Baggy Greens good luck for the final.
“Michael informed me and his team-mates of his decision earlier today,” the statement said. “We congratulate him on a wonderful career in one-day international cricket.
“From the time that he burst onto the scene as an exciting 21-year old way back in January 2003, he was always destined for great things.
“While his decision comes as something of a surprise, Michael leaves one-day cricket on his own terms, aiming to finish on an absolute high, in front of a packed MCG as a possible World Cup-winning captain. That’s very special.
“Regardless of the result, he will leave the one-day international game as one our greats. We thank him for his wonderful contribution to one-day cricket and look forward to his continued leadership at Test level.”