Clarke being carried, Poms take 2-1 lead

Michael Clarke concedes he has become a passenger for Australia, but the captain is yet to contemplate Test retirement.

Clarke capped a miserable three days at Edgbaston by dropping a catch that helped England cruise to an eight-wicket win on Friday.

Ian Bell, given a life on 20, finished 65 not out as the hosts reeled in a target of 121 in 32.1 overs.

It won’t help Clarke, who continued a poor run with the bat by scoring 10 and 3 in Birmingham, dispel suggestions the end of his international career is nigh.

More importantly for a skipper trying to guide Australia to their first Ashes win in England since 2001, it helped the hosts cruise to a 2-1 lead in the five-Test series.

“It’s always going to be hard to beat any opposition when they’ve got 11 and we’ve only got 10,” Clarke said.

“That’s how it feels.

“With my performances so far I certainly haven’t led from the front.”

In Clarke’s past 28 Test innings he has reached 25 just six times and scored two hundreds.

More concerning for Clarke, who has 28 Test tons to his name, is how restricted he’s looked on the current tour.

Adam Voges could be dropped in favour of Shaun Marsh for the fourth Test, which starts in Nottingham on Thursday.

However, Clarke has been equally unconvincing in a misfiring middle order that suffered collapses of 5-60 and 4-30 at Edgbaston.

Clarke remained “100 per cent confident” he warranted a place in the XI on form and declared he’d yet to ponder whether this series will be his last.

“My self belief is still there,” he said.

The squad will have a day off on Saturday.

Shane Warne suggested Clarke, renowned for his work ethic and being a fanatical trainer, may benefit from taking a few more to clear his mind.

“It’s a tough balance and I have spoken to Warney about it,” the 34-year-old said.

“Ricky Ponting used to go and play a week of golf then walk onto the field and make a hundred.

“That’s never really been me and that was the reason I played (last week’s tour game) at Derby.

“The selectors asked me if I wanted to have that game off, but I wanted to go.”

Clarke was unsure whether he would move back to No.5, having struggled to produce consistently at second drop since stepping up the batting order in 2013.

“A lot of that will be dictated by the XI the selectors give me,” he said.

It’s been 43 years since Australia have lost five wickets for 100 runs or less in both innings of an Ashes Test.

Clarke has a mountain of work to do in the next three weeks.

Aside from his own woes, the skipper must pick up a side that was outplayed for the majority of a helter-skelter match.

Only one team have won an Ashes series from 2-1 down, Don Bradman’s Australia in 1936-37.

“We need to turn things around and just keep believing,” Clarke said.

England captain Alastair Cook predicted Clarke would strike form soon.

“But hopefully not in the next couple of games,” Cook added.

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