Michael Clarke says mood within Australian camp is fine

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Michael Clarke insists there are no divisions in his beaten Ashes squad.

Clarke will retire after the final Investec Test at The Oval, having endured a miserable run of form with the bat this summer and led his team to series defeat already.

Australia can only limit the damage at best in the fifth Test - because after successive defeats at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge, they are 3-1 down with only one to play.


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Clarke confirmed, after his team lost by an innings and 78 runs in Nottingham, that he intends to play his final Test and captain his country one last time at The Oval.

He has since spoken out, though, to dismiss mutterings from some observers that Australia - 5-0 victors over England on home soil two winters ago - have become divided.

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"I can guarantee you, the feeling in this group is exceptional," the 34-year-old told Triple M Radio.

"There is no disharmony is this group whatsoever. The players are as tight as any team I've been a part of."

He has dismissed the suggestion too that the presence on tour of the players' wives or girlfriends has somehow distracted them.

"That's absolute garbage," said Clarke, who was accompanied by his wife Kyly to Saturday morning's post-match press conference at Trent Bridge in which he explained why he had decided to retire.

"I'll give back 10 of my Test 100s if it wasn't for my beautiful wife," he added.

"I'd be half the player I was without her."

He is expected to be succeeded as captain by Steve Smith.

But both Clarke himself and coach Darren Lehmann have made it clear the intention is that he will remain in charge for the last Test of a fruitless campaign.

Australia have been beset from the outset this summer by unavailability in an ageing group of players - dubbed 'Dad's Army' by one of their own former Ashes-winners, now Yorkshire coach, Jason Gillespie.

First, Ryan Harris was forced into retirement by a knee injury - before the Ashes even began - and then veteran wicketkeeper Brad Haddin had to miss the Lord's Test victory for personal reasons.

His replacement Peter Nevill fared well at HQ, and Australia's selectors had to make the call to keep the younger man in their side for the remaining matches.

For Clarke, the biggest disappointment is that his own output of just 117 runs in eight innings has doubtless contributed to Australia's downfall.

"I've always prided myself on leading from the front as captain and making sure I'm contributing to success by making runs," he said.

"It's heartbreaking to have played the way I've played and not helped the team get over the line.

"The retirement is at the right time for me and the team."

Smith will be happy to borrow from Clarke's leadership style, if and when his time comes.

"If it happens, fantastic," he said.

"To me, it is important to lead from the front.

"I know that is something Michael has always been very strong on - and I'll take that same road as well."

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Michael Clarke
Australia cricket

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