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Clarke to end ODI career after final

Australia captain Michael Clarke will retire from one-day internationals following tomorrow’s World Cup final against New Zealand.

The 33-year-old has been suffering with a back problem for some time and a hamstring injury ruled him out of Australia’s World Cup build-up, with George Bailey and Steven Smith, the two men most likely to succeed him, both leading the side in that period.

Clarke, who made his Australia debut during 2003 in the 50-over format, has played 244 ODIs, scoring eight hundreds among 7,907 runs at an average of 44.42. Had he not been so hampered by injuries, he would have surely won many more caps.

The classy right-handed batsman was a World Cup winner in 2007 and a losing quarter-finalist in 2011, after which he succeeded Ricky Ponting as skipper. Victory tomorrow would be Clarke’s 50th win in 74 games as captain.

Clarke revealed his decision during a press conference previewing the showpiece versus New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, saying: “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 – it’s been an honour and a privilege to represent my country for that amount of games. I’m grateful to every player I have been lucky enough to play with and this team is no exception to that.

Michael Clarke, left, who will play his 245th and last ODI tomorrow, poses alongside Brendon McCullum today with the World Cup trophy

“I think it is the right time for me and the Australian cricket 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 and I think the next Australian captain deserves the same opportunity.

“I don’t think it is realistic that I’ll be fit and healthy and available to play the next World Cup so I believe it is the right time.

“I think I’ll leave the one-day game for the Australian team in a better place than when I took over the captaincy.

“Last World Cup we were knocked out in the quarter-final. This World Cup we have been able to make 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.”

Clarke will lead Australia in England this summer as they look to defend the Ashes, and he explained that a desire to maintain his Test career was also behind his decision.

“I’m hopeful it will prolong my Test career as well,” he said.

“That’s obviously a priority for me, to continue to be successful in the Test format. I think by walking away from one-day cricket it probably gives me my best opportunity.”

He added: “I’ve never hid behind the fact that I find Test cricket to be the pinnacle of our sport.

“I’ve never gone down that road anyway in regard to what is the best thing to do for the public interest, as I’m sure you would have seen through my career, I’ve copped my fair share of smacks in the mouth.

“But I am who I am and it’s about being true to myself and I don’t feel bad about saying I believe Test cricket is the toughest part of our game. I love that challenge, I find it extremely difficult every Test match I play. I do see it as the pinnacle.

“I still think I’ve got a lot to offer the team as captain of the Australian Test team, and I want to make sure I continue to have success in that format.”

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