Nottingham - Australia captain Michael Clarke pleaded for
patience ahead of what could be a period of major team rebuilding following his
side's tame surrender of the Ashes at Trent Bridge on Saturday.
England's innings and 78-run victory in the fourth Test in
Nottingham gave them an unbeatable 3-1 lead in the five-match series.
Prior to Saturday's play, Clarke - in the middle of a
prolonged batting slump - announced his intention to retire from international
duty after the Ashes finale at The Oval later this month.
Fast bowler Ryan Harris retired due to a longstanding knee
injury on the eve of the series, with opening batsman Chris Rogers having
previously said this Ashes would mark the end of his Australia career.
This tour could also be the last time the likes of
wicket-keeper Brad Haddin, all-rounder Shane Watson, batsmen Adam Voges and
Shaun Marsh and fast bowler Peter Siddle are seen in Australian colours.
"We need to be patient, there's no doubt about it,
especially if we lose a few guys in one go," the 34-year-old Clarke, a
veteran of 114 Tests, told reporters at Trent Bridge.
"It's going to take some time," added Clarke, the
first Australian in more than a century to lose four successive Ashes series in
This latest defeat inside three days was even more
embarrassing than the eight-wicket loss Australia suffered in the third Test
across the Midlands at Birmingham's Edgbaston.
Australia were all but beaten in 94 minutes on the first day
at Trent Bridge as they were dismissed for 60 in 18.3 overs - the shortest
completed first innings in Test history - with Stuart Broad taking a stunning
eight for 15 on his Nottinghamshire home ground, a haul that included the
England paceman's 300th Test wicket.
Clarke could only watch from the pavilion on Saturday as
Australia, 241 for seven overnight and still 90 runs shy of making England bat
again, lost their last three second-innings wickets for 12 runs in 40 minutes'
play, the match ending when last man Nathan Lyon's stumps were uprooted after
he played on to fast bowler Mark Wood.
"We've been beaten by a better team... we were
outplayed in this series," said Clarke, who only some 18 months ago led
Australia to a 5-0 whitewashing of England 'Down Under'.
Clarke, one of the best batsmen of his generation, has
reached 25 just six times in his last 30 Test innings.
He will now bow out from Australia duty at The Oval, where
the fifth and final Test of this series begins on August 20, having already
retired from one-day internationals after leading his country to World Cup
glory on home soil earlier this year.
Scores of 10 and 13 at Trent Bridge persuaded Clarke that
now was the right time to bring the curtain down on his illustrious Australia career.
Clarke was adamant the decision was his alone and not forced on him by a
selection panel headed by Australia great Rodney Marsh.
"Selectors did not speak to me at all about being
dropped or standing down or retiring," said Clarke.
"I made the decision late last (Friday) night with my
beautiful wife and spoke to my family.
"This morning I had a conversation with (Australia
coach) Darren Lehmann and Rod Marsh and told them what I was going to do. They
were both extremely respectful and thankful for what I've given Australian
"I don't feel sad. I'm more disappointed or sad with
the way we played through this series and the way I played as captain."
Steven Smith, who led Australia in three Tests during the
2014/15 home series against India when Clarke was sidelined with hamstring
trouble, is set to take over as captain on a permanent basis.
"I think Smithy is ready," Clarke said of the
26-year-old. "I believe in him and I believe in the Australian team."