Michael Clarke says it's "rubbish" to suggest he no longer has the hunger for international cricket, declaring he won't be retiring after the Ashes. Clarke's form continues to be one of Australia's most worrying concerns heading into the fourth Test, which starts in Nottingham on Thursday.
The captain even commented after last week's eight-wicket loss at Edgbaston that his batting slump effectively meant the team was playing with 10 men. Many pundits have suggested the end of Clarke's stellar Test career, which started in 2004 and has featured 28 centuries, could come soon.
If England reclaim the urn, which they will do with victory at either Trent Bridge or The Oval, the pressure will only rise.
In his past 28 Test innings, Clarke has reached 25 just six times and scored two hundreds. The 34-year-old conceded he deserves to be criticised, having struggled with the bat as England grabbed a 2-1 lead in the five-Test series.
"But I've heard there have been a few articles questioning me for not having that hunger inside me," Clarke wrote in his News Limited column.
I think somebody said they could 'see it in my eyes' that I was finished after this series. That's a complete load of rubbish. People can certainly have a shot at me about my performance, but they can't have a shot at me about my desire. To question me on my hunger kills me, it absolutely kills me, because I pride myself on trying to get better every single day.
Clarke declared he had "no intention to walk away from cricket", which could make for an awkward standoff with selectors if he fails to post a decent score on the current tour. "People are talking about how I'm going to retire after this series, well they don't know me," he noted.
“Chris Rogers waited until 35 years of age to play his second Test. I’m 34, not 37, and I want to keep playing for Australia beyond this series, however I will be judged on performance like everyone else.” England paceman Stuart Broad, who dismissed Clarke in the first Test at Cardiff, was delighted with the way his side had extended Clarke's slump.
"As a bowling unit we talk a lot about him and what plans we have for him," Broad said on Tuesday. "We are quite proud at the way we have bowled at him so far. He has not been getting out nicking genuinely wide half-volleys." However, Broad was full of praise for Clarke and fully aware their battle was far from over.
“We know how dangerous he is.”
-Broad said. "He is such a key player for them, but it has been going well for us so far."
Clarke was the first to arrive and last to leave Australia's sessions at Trent Bridge on Monday and Tuesday. It's nothing new for a man renowned for his fanatical devotion to training.
"It's not just in the last couple of days, he's always doing the extra work," Mitchell Johnson said.
"He's really eager to come out and score runs this Test. I've got a feeling he will. If he scores runs, we're going to win this Test."
Source : Cricket Australia