Nightwatchman Ashes Blog Post #7
Ashes 2015: Michael Clarke's retirement caught us by surprise

The last thing we expected on the third morning at Trent Bridge was Michael Clarke’s retirement.

It had been a difficult couple of days so it was no surprise when he called us together before play but to hear him say that the next Test at the Oval would be his last was a shock.

Michael’s announcement couldn’t have come at a more disappointing time as we were about to relinquish the Ashes.

While we can’t win the Ashes back for him we now have massive motivation to send him out on a high of sorts with a vastly improved performance at the Oval to win the last Test.

There is no such thing as a dead rubber and that is the least we can do for him given he has been such a great servant of Australian cricket for such a long time.

 It’s going to be a big moment when we walk out onto the field with him for the last time and we want to make it a memorable last Test.

He was an unbelievable captain. The way he has held himself in the good moments and not so god moments is a credit to him. He’s been an exceptional leader.

I have much to thank Michael for. His first Test as captain was my first as a player after I’d been selected with limited first class experience and he was great to me.

We were playing Sri Lanka in Galle and he threw me the ball pretty early, which was good. It helped calm the nerves.

Pup was always a big one for enjoying your cricket. You only make your Test debut once so you want to remember it as enjoyable, that you had a bit of fun.

Before the Test he told me “back your skill, no matter what happens I’ve got your back.”

Hearing that from a captain and a senior player really set the tone for me. I could go out and play with freedom, back myself and try and take wickets for Australia.

As a captain of spin bowling he was fantastic. It definitely helped that he was one of the best players of spin in world cricket.

Bowling to him in the nets was quite challenging and pushed me to try and get better against quality players of spin.

Trying to figure out different ways of training against pup has helped me immensely.

On the field he understands different angles and field placements and trying to get the batters to hit the ball in different places.

As a young spinner coming into Test cricket Michael definitely helped me knowledge of the game. He’s one of the best guys you could hope to learn the game of cricket off, that’s for sure.

We knew it was going to be a tough first session at Trent Bridge. We would have bowled if we won the toss.

England, and Stuart Broad in particular, deserve a lot of credit for the way they bowled in the conditions.

You have to expect batting to be a challenge on the first morning of any Test and we just did not adapt to the conditions.

Josh Hazlewood and I were smiling at each other batting together as number 10 and 11 before lunch on the opening day of a Test. We knew that would be a once in a lifetime experience.

It’s been great to have my partner Mel and kids Milla and Harper on tour. No matter what sort of day you’ve had your family still love you when you walk through the door.

11th August 2015

The Nightwatchman is Australia’s Plan B, What’s yours?