Michael Clarke's announcement that he will retire from ODI cricket after the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 on Sunday is hardly surprising; the only real surprise was that it took the Australia captain so long to come to/reveal the decision. It would have been the kind of announcement expected at the start of the World Cup or once it became clear that he would be fit and ready to lead Australia to a World Cup title on home soil.
"I think it's the right time for me and the Australian cricket team," said Clarke. "I made the decision 48 hours ago when I asked myself if I thought I would be playing in the next World Cup and I said to myself that I don't think I will be."
No matter how you look, Clarke bidding goodbye to ODIs makes sense. At this World Cup, the skipper has had hardly anything to do with the bat. Most of the slack has been picked up by the top three or the lower order. Indeed, there have been a few times when he has had to push himself lower down the order in order to allow some of the big hitters the opportunity to do what they do best towards the latter part of the innings.
Clarke's bowling is rare and not as effective anymore, owing to injuries (read hamstring and back) and the fact that he just doesn't throw down enough deliveries.
The only thing that cannot be disputed is his captaincy. There is little doubt that under Clarke, Australia have risen after a lull following the retirements of some of the greatest players the world has ever seen. The 33-year-old has had a large role to play in that Aussie resurgence, be that in Test or ODI cricket.
But then, there is also a question that can be posed concerning this Australia side at the World Cup: Would they have performed any different had George Bailey or even Steven Smith been at the helm? The answer is probably no. As good a captain Clarke is, this Australia side would have been there or thereabouts with a final at the MCG being the most likely scenario.
For instance, Clarke has not had to work as hard as say an MS Dhoni or a Brendon McCullum to mould a whole team to become greater than the sum of its parts. The Australia skipper has had more of an AB De Villiers-like job, where the team has had outrageous talent and depth, enough to take them all the way home without too much need of talented leadership.
The fact that Australia are in the final and not South Africa, though, is partly because Clarke is a better captain than De Villiers and he knows how to win, having been there and done that when the Aussie team was the best and most feared side in the world.
That winning mentality will never go away from an Australia side, and with a ridiculously talented, multi-faceted cricketer in Steven Smith – who are we kidding, Smith will be the captain of Australia in all formats, sooner than later -- waiting in the wings to lead his country to more glory, this is the right time for "Pup" to take that last bark in the final and bid goodbye to the coloured clothes game.
"I think it's the right time for me," added Clarke. "A lot of it is giving the next captain and the team the opportunity to prepare and the selectors to work out what they feel is their best squad for the next World Cup (in 2019, to be played in the UK).
"I leave the one-day team in a better place than when I took over the captaincy and it gives me my best chance to prolong my Test career.
"They are the three main reasons why I have decided to walk away from one-day cricket."