Sydney: Australian captain Michael Clarke has dismissed the idea of being driven into retirement by a degenerative back problem and believes he could play three more Ashes series over the next five years.
Clarke will start his sixth Ashes series on November 21, but with the back problem certain to return at some point and his captaincy the subject of a media debate, there has been speculation he might soon call time on his Test career.
"I won't be retiring, not for a long time," the 32-year-old told Sydney's Daily Telegraph. I feel as fit and healthy as I've been for a long time and my love and drive to have success and be a part of this Australian team and New South Wales team is as strong as ever. As long as I'm performing, I think I've got a good four or five years left in me."
There has been little wrong with his performances with the bat in the two years since Clarke took up the captaincy.
Although his record against England (1,746 runs at an average of 46 per innings) does not quite match up to his overall stats (7,656 runs at 52), Australian cricket fans will be delighted their best batsman is going nowhere.
Another five years would take Clarke through the 2015 tour of England as well as the 2017-18 series Down Under and to an age close to that of his predecessor Ricky Ponting when the Tasmanian retired.
"My love of the game is stronger than it has ever been. The older you get, the more you experience the highs and lows," Clarke said. It makes you enjoy the good times and enjoy the wins, and also realise that when you're not winning hard work will turn that around. I'm as excited as I've been at the start of any summer."
After losing the last Ashes played in Australia 3-1 in 2010-11 and going down 3-0 in England just a few months ago, Clarke's team are in the rare position of going into a home series as underdogs.
"If I didn't think we could win I wouldn't take the field," Clarke said. "You want to win every game you play. That's part of playing for Australia."