Clarke ends first year in winning style

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Michael Clarke’s record in his first 12 months as Australia’s Test captain has gone from good to great after the 2-0 series win in the Caribbean.

Friday’s 75-run win over the West Indies in Dominica means Clarke has won nine of the 14 Tests since he took over the captaincy permanently from Ricky Ponting last April.

In that time Clarke has overseen series wins away from home against Sri Lanka and the West Indies, shared a series on the road with the highly-rated South Africans and crushed India 4-0 during the domestic summer.

Only December’s loss to New Zealand in Hobart, which earned the Kiwis a 1-1 series result, can be seen as a stumble in Clarke’s captaincy run.

That defeat though appears to be a turning point for Clarke’s team, which is yet to give up a series and has climbed from fifth in the world Test rankings after the 2010-11 Ashes humiliation to third.

Since Hobart, Clarke’s men have won six of seven Tests with only the rain-marred draw against the Windies in Trinidad preventing a clean sweep.

But the man himself believes it was the darkest moment of his captaincy – being dismissed for a mere 47 against South Africa in Cape Town – which really taught him and his teammates a valuable lesson.

“Hobart was disappointing, to lose that game, but I think sometimes you need to see both sides,” Clarke said.

“You need to experience both sides of the coin.

“Cape Town showed us how quickly things can change for the worse and then to be able to pull off a win in Jo’burg, and we’re talking about a very strong Test cricket team in their own backyard, to be able to level that series was a great learning curve for us.

“We probably saw a little of that again against New Zealand.

“There are highs and lows in this game and you’re going to experience both, whether you like it or not individually as a player.

“That gave us the opportunity as a team to see that it doesn’t matter what opposition you play against, if you’re not at your best, you’re going to get beaten.

“We continue to learn, especially, from those two games, from Cape Town and Hobart.”

Clarke’s biggest challenge is still over 12 months away, trying to win back and then defend the Ashes with successive campaigns against England in 2013.

But it was a challenge he refused to discuss before leaving the Caribbean, focusing instead on his team’s bid to climb back to the top of the world rankings.

“It’s not just about one series or one summer,” Clarke said.

“It’s about consistency over a period of time that gets you to the No.1 team in the world.

“We want to continue to win as many games of cricket as we can. If we look after that you’ll see the Australian team will continue to go up the rankings.”

© AAP 2014
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