Ashes - Clarke quits T20, White to skipper

Fri, 07 Jan 08:14:00 2011

Australia's Test cricket woes have thrown the Twenty20 team's preparations into disarray, with disillusioned skipper Michael Clarke quitting the format after struggling with the bat during the 3-1 loss in the Ashes.

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Clarke, who replaced the injured Ricky Ponting as captain for the fifth and final Ashes Test, led Australia to the final of the T20 World Cup earlier this year but said he wanted more time to become a better Test player.

"I'm retiring from international Twenty20 cricket," the batsman said after leading Australia to an innings and 83-run defeat to England in the Sydney Test on Friday.

"I guess, looking back on this series, my Test cricket isn't where I want it at the moment.

"(It) gives me the opportunity to focus wholly and solely on Test cricket and one-day and to use that time to play more domestic or first-class cricket for New South Wales and become a better Test player.

"I've always said Test cricket is the ultimate for me.

This gives me that opportunity," added the 29-year-old, who managed a sole half-century in nine innings during the Ashes series.

Clarke was praised for his captaincy during the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean, where Australia were beaten in the final by bitter rivals England, but finished with the lowest average of Australia's specialist batsmen.

"Obviously my T20 performances haven't been that great, which made the decision that much easier," he said.

Cameron White, captain of Victoria state, has been named in Clarke's place for the two T20 matches against England in Adelaide on January 12 and Melbourne two days later with Tim Paine confirmed as his deputy.

The squad also includes Brett Lee, who will represent Australia for the first time since October 2009, as well as the uncapped Aaron Finch and James Pattinson.

Clarke was burdened with the task of leading a demoralised Australia into the final Test in Sydney after Ponting was ruled out by his finger injury.

"It's been a tough couple of months to be honest, we've been outplayed in all facets of the game," he said.

"I think England have shown us what execution and discipline does with the ball and they've managed to go and make some big scores with the bat as well.

"Obviously I'm very disappointed like all the boys. We didn't perform as well as we'd have liked."

Clarke's second innings dismissal on 41 after a defiant stand with debutant Usman Khawaja hastened Australia's third innings defeat in the series, a record low for the team.

He said he had enjoyed walking out as captain wearing Australia's baggy green cap but gave little suggestion he was eager to stay at the helm ahead of a long period of soul-searching for the under-fire team.

"I think individually, especially being the vice captain, I need to stand up and start scoring some more runs," he said.

Australia squad: David Warner, Shane Watson, Cameron White (capt), David Hussey, Aaron Finch, Steven Smith, Tim Paine (wk), Steve O'Keefe, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, James Pattinson, Shaun Tait.

Reuters

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