London: Outgoing Australia captain Michael Clarke has said the Ashes series climax against England will be a test of his side’s character as they battle to restore some lost pride.
England, at 3-1 up in the five-match contest, have already regained the Ashes following a pair of crushing victories at Edgbaston (eight wickets) and Trent Bridge (an innings and 78 runs) where Australia suffered first innings collapses as they failed to adjust to the movement created by green, seaming pitches. They can expect a similar surface come the fifth Test at The Oval starting tomorrow, where Australia’s top order must somehow put the nightmare of their first innings 60 all out, featuring England paceman Stuart Broad’s eight for 15, in the fourth Test at Trent Bridge behind them. England have never won four Tests in a home Ashes series and Clarke, who will retire from international cricket after the Oval match, is desperate Australia avoid further embarrassment.
This Test is as much about our character as anything else,” Clarke said today. We need to play with that resilience and grit and determination and really fight as hard as we possibly can. The past couple of Tests in particular have only gone two-and-a-half days. Part of our responsibility is to try and fight our backsides off and grind our way to a victory in this Test.” Having looked at the pitch, Clarke — who won the toss and batted at Edgbaston but saw Australia inserted at Trent Bridge — was clear on the likely outcome at The Oval. It’s going to be another really tough Test match for the batters,” Clarke said.
Another Test match that, if you win the toss, you’re going to bowl first. It’s going to be a result wicket. Someone is going to win – someone is going to lose.” Clarke is set to captain the Melbourne Stars in the next edition of Australia’s Twenty20 Big Bash League and is likely to follow a well-trodden path from dressing room to television commentary box. The 34-year-old, plagued by back and more recently hamstring trouble for much of his career, said he would have no trouble adjusting to life after what will be, The Oval included, a run of 115 Tests. I’ll be fine, he said as he made clear he would be stepping away from involvement with the national side.
For now, I won’t be involved with Australian cricket,” he said. I think it is best that I have some time; it is best for the team as well. When you retire, you retire for a reason … there are some fresh ideas and some fresh energy from a lot of the young players.” Clarke who has scored 8,628 Test runs, including 28 hundreds, added that now was not the time for reflection. This week has been about being focused on this last Test match, so I haven’t looked backwards at all yet,” he said. As for imparting any words of wisdom to incoming captainSteven Smith and vice-captain David Warner, Clarke said: “I don’t think it is right for me to sit here and give advice.
Davey has played enough cricket; Smithy has played enough cricket. They’ve got a good relationship. “They’ll be fine — they’ll do a great job. I’ve spoken to them both and congratulated them both and I’m really happy for them.” Meanwhile England captain Alastair Cook urged his side to be as ruthless as Australia had been when Clarke’ men won 5-0 in the last Ashes in 2013/14. Australia did it very well to us when they were 3-0 up,” he said. “They hammered us in the next two games.”