Clarke, 34, confirmed his decision to quit after his side slumped to defeat by an innings and 78 runs in a little over two days in the Fourth Test at Trent Bridge. The result saw England regain the Ashes as they moved 3-1 up in the series with just one match left to play.

The skipper – who has averaged just 16 from eight innings in the series – will step down after the final Test at the Oval later this month.

“I felt my performances weren’t as good as I wanted them to be,” said Clarke, quoted by the BBC. “The decision is never easy. I started playing this great game at six years of age. I’m 34. I wish I could play for another 30 years.”

The New South Wales batsman made his Test debut in October 2004, and during an outstanding career he has scored 8628 runs in 114 Tests at an average of 49.30. He guided Australia to a 5-0 series whitewash against England on home soil 20 months ago, but his own form has faltered dramatically. Since March 2014 he has scored only 388 runs in 18 innings.

Clarke suffered a huge personal setback when his close friend and team-mate Phillip Hughes died after being struck on the neck by a delivery at the Sydney Cricket Ground last November. He has also been plagued by injury problems including a bad back and a serious hamstring injury.

Yet his exit from the international arena comes only four months after one of his greatest triumphs – leading Australia to a fifth World Cup triumph when they beat New Zealand by seven wickets in Melbourne in the final of this year’s tournament.