April 28, 2012
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Clarke keeps lid on great Aussie expectations

Michael Clarke celebrated a year in charge of Australia with a 75-run victory over West Indies in the third and final Test, but insisted his team is far from the finished article.

Since succeeding Ricky Ponting as skipper, Clarke has built an impressive record with nine wins, three draws and just two defeats in 14 Tests.

"A lot more grey hairs, but I've really enjoyed it," said Clarke, after Australia wrapped-up their Caribbean series 2-0.

"I've been very lucky to have some other great leaders around me, wonderful support staff who have played a part in me having success. And the captain is only as good as his stock.

"Come our next tour to England, the one-day series, we'll be looking to continue to play some really good cricket and keep Australain cricket in the right direction."

Clarke has been through the mill during his time in charge, with a series of great highs and embarrassing lows.

He led Australia to an impressive 4-0 home win over India, scoring 626 runs at an average of 125.20.

He also became only the third player after Don Bradman and Wally Hammond to have made a triple century and a double century in the same series.

But he also saw his team bowled out for just 47 by South Africa in Cape Town, before squaring the series in Johannesburg just days later.

Then came the shock defeat to New Zealand in Hobart in December last year.

Those ups and downs have forced Clarke not to get too carried away by making predictions over what the future may hold for Australia.

"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 team in their own back yard -- so to be able to level that series was a great learning curve for us.

"And we continue to learn, especially, from those two games, Cape Town and Hobart.

"I still think we're a way off the number one spot. We have a lot of improvement to become the number one team. It's not just about one series or one summer. It's about consistency over a period of time."

Australia's South African coach Mickey Arthur praised the contributions of Matthew Wade, who made a maiden Test century here and spinner Nathan Lyon, who was his team's leading wicket-taker in the series with 13.

Ed Cowan also won plaudits from Arthur after the opener made a battling 55 in the first innings of the final Test.

"It's been excellent for the development of a lot of players who haven't played out of Australia before. I'm thinking of the likes of Matthew Wade, Ed Cowan, Nathan Lyon," said Arthur.

"I think we've played solid cricket, we've had a lot of young players that are playing in these conditions for the first time and I think they all go back to Australia better players.

"We go back to Australia with a lot of answers as to where we're going as a squad and I'm very, very happy that we're just creating depth within our structures because with the amount of cricket we play these days there's going to be injuries and we've got guys that are going to be match-hardened and ready to step up to the plate."

AFP

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