Michael Clarke set to retire after Ashes

Australia’s impending Ashes defeat looks to have ended Michael Clarke’s career.

Clarke has been under increasing pressure throughout the five-Test series due to a slump with the bat.

It’s understood he has agreed with selectors that the time is right to step down.

Steve Smith will lead the side in their next Test assignment, a tour of Bangladesh in October.

Smith captained Australia in three Tests against India last summer, when Clarke underwent hamstring surgery.

Clarke returned to lead the one-day side, retiring from limited-overs cricket after top-scoring in the World Cup final.

The 34-year-old has struggled in the whites since, with his current series average standing at 16.71.

Only one other Australian captain has produced a lower average in an Ashes since 1965 – Ricky Ponting’s 16.14 in 2010-11.

However, the skipper declared before the fourth Test he had no intention to retire after the Ashes and remained confident the wheel would turn soon.

Coach Darren Lehmann vowed to give Clarke “as long as he needs” to find form after a crushing defeat last week at Edgbaston.

The conversation moved quickly at Trent Bridge, where the tourists effectively ceded the urn when they were skittled for just 60 in the fastest first innings in Test history.

Clarke is available for selection for the fifth Test at The Oval, but it’s unclear at this stage if he will be picked and play a 115th Test.

He was shaking hands with teammates an hour before the third day was set to start at Trent Bridge.

In Clarke’s past 30 Test innings, he has reached 25 just six times and scored two hundreds.

The current series will be the fifth time Clarke has played in an unsuccessful Ashes campaign.

The Nottingham nightmare will be Clarke’s 13th away defeat as Test captain.

No Australia skipper has lost as many away Tests.

Yet there were plenty of highlights in Clarke’s career, most notably an unbeaten knock of 329 against India in 2012 at the SCG.

If Clarke fails to reach three figures in the dead rubber, he will finish on 28 Test centuries – one less than Don Bradman.

Australia will play two Tests in Bangladesh in October then host New Zealand and the West Indies in three-Test series.

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