End of the road for Aussie skipper Clarke
The news hardly came as a surprise.
When Australian captain Michael Clarke announced that the fifth and final Ashes test at the Oval next week would be his last, it was only confirmation of what most onlookers had already realised - his position had become untenable.
"Unfortunately I haven't played as well as I would have liked,” he said, “and I think it's the right thing and the right time to give the Australian team and the next captain that chance to prepare for the next Ashes series."
For Clarke, it was a perfect storm of disasters - indeed, things had got so bad for him that surrendering the Ashes to the auld enemy following defeat at Trent Bridge was not necessarily the tipping point.
The manner of that defeat was surely just as important - after being put in on day one by English captain Alastair Cook, Clarke’s side were bowled out for just 60 in 18.3 overs before lunch, the quickest a side batting first in a Test match had ever been dismissed.
And that wasn’t all. Clarke’s personal form with the bat had been dreadful with a top score in the series so far of just 38, and a total of 117 runs at an average of only 16.71.
There had also been rumours of dressing-room unrest, particularly after popular and experienced wicketkeeper Brad Haddin was dropped from the team, apparently for good, after asking to be left out of one match for personal reasons.
Other senior players including Chris Rogers, one of the few successes on this tour, Haddin, and Shane Watson are also expected to retire after the Oval Test, leaving new skipper Steve Smith with a tough task on his hands if he is to guide Australia back to the top of the world rankings.