Michael Clarke’s batting woes continued at Edgbaston with the Australian captain scoring just three runs in the second innings of the third Ashes Test as his average dropped to under 50 for the first time since April 2012.
Clarke, who scored 10 in the first innings on Wednesday, scratched around at the crease before tea after Steve Smith was dismissed for eight, and was back in the pavilion in the second over after the restart when he edged Steve Finn to Adam Lyth at fourth slip.
The skipper was quickly followed by Adam Voges – a first ball victim to the rejuvenated Finn – and the West Australian’s position in the side is under threat from in-form Shaun Marsh who has scored centuries in the recent tour matches against Kent and Derbyshire.
Voges has failed to pass 31 in five Ashes innings and clocked up just 17 runs in two visits to the crease at Derby last week.
But it is Clarke’s form that is of a bigger concern and the end of his glittering career must be nigh unless he can somehow rediscover the touch that took him to the top of the world rankings in 2012.
During a golden period with the bat he chalked up 1595 runs at 106.33 in 11 matches – the most in a calendar year by an Australian.
But in his past 28 innings – a span stretching back to December 2013 – Clarke has reached 25 just six times and scored two hundreds.
Taking away the hugely emotional 128 against India – shortly after the death of Phillip Hughes – the 34-year-old has scored just 237 runs in his past 16 innings at an average of 19.6.
Clarke’s close friend and confidant Shane Warne said it would be ridiculous to even consider dropping the skipper and believes he is just one innings away from getting back in the runs.
“Maybe Michael Clarke needs to get away and clear his mind for two or three days leading into the next Test match,” Warne said on Sky Sports.
“He just needs one score and he’s away.
“Michael Clarke’s a terrific player, but out of form at the moment.”
Finn insisted his side had the “utmost respect” for Clarke.
“We’ve all played against him when he’s torn us apart,” he said.
“At some stage he’ll score runs but hopefully it won’t be in this series.”
David Warner noted Clarke wasn’t alone in struggling with the bat.
“A lot of us haven’t scored as many runs as we’d like,” Warner said.