London: 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 England.
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 cricket.
"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."