Clarke to retire from ODIs

The 33-year-old made the surprise announcement at a press conference in Melbourne ahead of the match against the Black Caps.

“I think it’s the right time for me and the Australian cricket team,” read a report on, Cricket Australia’s official news outlet.

“I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect I’ll be fit and healthy and available for the next WC, so I think it’s the right time.”

Clarke has played 244 ODIs for his country since making his debut in 2003,??scoring 7907 runs at an average of 44.42, and was made captain when Ricky??Ponting stood down following the 2011 World Cup.

“I know I’ve made the right decision,” he said. “I told my team-mates 10??minutes ago. I told the selectors and (Cricket Australia boss) James Sutherland??about an hour ago.”

Shortly after Clarke made his announcement, Cricket Australia chief executive??Sutherland released a statement thanking the batsman for his service.

“Michael informed me and his team-mates of his decision earlier today,” it??read. “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.”

Clarke will lead Australia in England this summer as they look to defend the??Ashes they won with a whitewash in 2014 and he admitted that a desire to prolong??his Test career was behind his decision.

“That’s obviously a priority for me to continue to be successful in the Test??format,” he said. “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.”

Speculation will now mount over who will replace Clarke at the helm with George??Bailey and Steve Smith the two most likely candidates.

Bailey has led the 50-over team in Clarke’s absence due to back and hamstring??injuries recently but Steve Smith was handed the Test reins during the recent??series win over India.

And while Clarke admitted that Smith had impressed over the winter, he refused??to get drawn into the debate over his replacement.

“Smithy has certainly matured as a player and a person,” he said.

“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.”

Clarke has led Australia in 73 one-day matches and victory on Sunday would be a??50th win at the helm.