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Australian cricket is in great hands under Steven Smith - Clarke

Michael Clarke hugs his mother after playing his final Test match.
Michael Clarke hugs his mother after playing his final Test match.
©REUTERS / Action Images

Australian captain Michael Clarke expressed his confidence in the future of the Australian team, which he believes is in the safe hands of Steven Smith.

In his final international game, Clarke led his team to a massive victory as Australia defeated England by an innings and 46 runs in the fifth Ashes Test at The Oval.

Having lost the urn in the fourth Test at Trent Bridge, Clarke voiced his pleasure at the way Australia bounced back to win the fifth game.

“I think after the last Test, I don't think it couldn't have gone any better to be honest,” Clarke told Sky Sports.

“The way the guys have come out and played in this game is a great reward for the hard work we have put in throughout the tour.” 

Australia have had a rollercoaster ride in the campaign, winning the second and fifth Tests by huge margins, while suffering massive defeats in the remaining games.

Clarke congratulated Alastair Cook and his team for outplaying Australia.

“No doubt Alastair and the England team deserve a lot of credit.

“They have won the Ashes and they deserve to win it. They have outplayed us in the series.”

Adding that he had no regrets in the tour, Clarke felt that the feeling was more of disappointment at having lost the series.

“I don't think regret is the right word, obviously there was disappointment after we lost the series.

That shows the true character of these players to be able to still get up for this game and come out and perform at our best.”

Clarke failed to perform with the bat in the Ashes, scoring only 132 runs at an average of 16.50, unable to score even a single fifty from five Tests.

Nonetheless, Clarke has received tremendous respect from all the quarters, especially after announcing his retirement after the series defeat in the fourth Test.

Seeing the lighter side of it, Clarke believed that the crowd has been supportive as he did not score many runs with the bat.

“Probably because I haven't scored many runs.

“They (the crowd) are used to booing me, now they are clapping me for not scoring many runs.

“The fans in the game of cricket all over the world are such an important part of playing this great game.” 

From 20 Test matches in England, Clarke has 1,296 runs with three hundreds and five fifties under his belt, enjoying success with the bat in his previous three outings in 2005, 2009 and 2013.

Clarke cherished his memories of playing in England, while stating his desire to come back for a holiday now that he has retired from the game.

“Every single trip I have had to England I have absolutely loved.

“Probably my favourite tour was 2005, we did not win that series, but I have such amazing memories.

“That introduced me to how hard Test cricket is.

“I am extremely thankful and grateful to be lucky enough to be able to tour the UK, it is a wonderful part of the world.

“Now, hopefully I can come back and have a holiday or watch some cricket.” 

After making an impressive debut against India in 2004, Clarke has amassed 8,643 runs from 115 Tests at an average of 49.10, scoring 28 hundreds and 27 fifties.

Reflecting on his 11 year long career, Clarke asserted that he enjoyed every single moment of his journey as an Australian cricketer.

“It has been an amazing journey. That is a part of playing for Australia.

“It doesn't matter whether you play for 1 Test or 100 Tests, you cherish every single one.

“You never want to say goodbye, but there comes a time for everyone.

“I have been really lucky to play with some fantastic players. I have enjoyed every minute.” 

Clarke made his debut in a team that consisted of greats like Ricky Ponting, Mathew Hayden, Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Justin Langer, and Adam Gilchrist.

Growing up the ranks, Clarke emerged to become Australia’s fourth highest run getter in Tests, standing behind greats like Ponting, Alan Border and Steve Waugh.

Thanking his seniors for mentoring him during his early days, Clarke said that he attempted to pass on the knowledge to the current crop of players.

“I was really lucky that I came into a very experienced and great Australian team.

“My first 20 or 30 Test matches did not matter if I made a duck every game.

“We still had good enough players to win the game.

“Those guys mentored me and helped me grow.

“I just hope I have been able to pass some of that knowledge onto these players now.” 

The Australian selectors have named Smith as Australia’s next captain, a move that Clarke completely endorses.

“This team here is as good a team as I have played with.

“I love their work ethic and their dedication to try and get better every single day.

“I think Australian cricket is in great hands under Steven Smith and the players in this team.”

When asked if he had any advice for Smith, Clarke simply urged the 26-year-old to enjoy his every single moment in his career.

“Enjoy every single moment.

“Look, I'm blessed to have played as much as I have and been lucky enough to have captained Australia.

“It is a privilege and honour to captain your country and I'm sure Alastair will say the same.
“Steve Smith will make a fantastic captain.”

Australia will now head to Belfast to play Ireland in a lone One-Day International on 27th August, ahead of the limited overs' leg of their ongoing tour of the United Kingdom.

© Cricket World 2015`