Hard to let go, says Michael Clarke amid off-field strife reports

Sydney: Australia captain Michael Clarke said today that cricket was his entire life and it was hard to let go, as a report claimed the disastrous England tour has been plagued by off-field dramas.

Clarke, 34, announced he was retiring after England completed a crushing innings and 78-run victory in the fourth Test at Trent Bridge on Saturday to take an unbeatable 3-1 lead in the five-match Ashes series. He will play the final Test at The Oval on August 20 before the curtain comes down on a distinguished career. “My entire life has been about cricket. I’ve thought about the great game every day for as long as I can remember,” he said in a column for the Sydney Daily Telegraph.

Definitely telling my grandfather was perhaps the hardest part and he was very emotional. Pop’s made it clear to me over the past 10 years that watching me play cricket is a big part of what keeps him going. “I tried not to let emotion overcome me — I’ve done too much crying over the years.” Clarke, one of the best batsmen of his generation but plagued by injuries, knew the time was right to go, having reached 25 just six times in his last 30 Test innings. Once I got back to my hotel after day two (of the fourth Test) I spoke to my wife, Kyly, and then I went straight up to (Shane Warne’s) Warnie’s room,” he said.

“My mind was made up, but sometimes you look for that security that I wasn’t just making the decision on emotion. That I was making the right decision for the right reasons. “Kyly and Warnie both gave me that support.” Clarke’s comments came as the same newspaper reported that off-field dramas had caused friction during the tour, including a long-running feud between the wives of two senior players. It also claimed Clarke’s apparent refusal to travel on the team bus or socialise with teammates was an issue, while the sacking of popular vice-captain Brad Haddin after time off for family reasons did not go down well. The newspaper said it was “the year-long disintegration in the off-field relationship between Clarke and the rest of the team” that hindered any chance of Ashes success.

“He often chooses to travel by private car instead of the team bus and rarely attends team get-togethers. On the night that he made his decision to step down, team members were stunned when he joined them for a rare drink in the hotel bar, although he ended the night drowning his sorrows with former teammate Shane Warne rather than any of the current side.” Clarke added that he was proud that “right up to the last day of my career I can look myself in the mirror and say that I have left nothing in the tank in terms of my work ethic and trying my best”.

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