Australia v India, 1st Test, MCG, 4th day

MCG victory needs repeating - Clarke

Daniel Brettig at the MCG

December 29, 2011

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Australia scaled great heights against India in Melbourne, and rightly celebrated some hours later with a raucous rendition of the team chant "Under the Southern Cross" in the middle of a deserted MCG. Michael Clarke's team had done much the same in Galle, Johannesburg, and Brisbane before it. Each of those Test wins demonstrated skill, courage, organisation and spirit, and ran a gamut of conditions.

But the team's ability to secure such results repeatedly remains open to question, given that the nightmares of Cape Town and Hobart fell in among those performances. Clarke has not yet lost a series as captain, but he is also yet to win more than one Test in a series. To defeat India and secure the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, he will need to do so.

As he basked in the afterglow of the victory, Clarke acknowledged the gap in an otherwise compelling captaincy CV. Leading a team of burgeoning talent but plenty of flaws, he is conscious of going to Sydney with a greater accent on repeating the good of Melbourne while remedying the bad.

"Consistency is what I've spoken about in the past," Clarke said. "There's periods throughout that game where we didn't perform as well as we'd like, so we need to look to improve that come Sydney. We need to assess conditions and see what XI we decide to take into that Test match, but against such a good team you can't afford to give them a sniff at all.

"When you're on top you need to make the most of that. I think we did that really well today with the ball, and we fought really hard with the bat yesterday and again this morning. It certainly is a time to enjoy this success, this first Test match, but once tonight's gone it is about re-assessing, working out how we can improve and go out all guns blazing in Sydney and try to win another Test match."

In James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus and perhaps Ryan Harris, Clarke has the fast bowling he needs to keep India uncomfortable. In Nathan Lyon he has a spin bowler who will keep attacking even if India respond in kind. And in Australia he has an environmental advantage that was discussed by the team prior to Boxing Day.

"I think everyone's more comfortable playing at home, the advantage of knowing conditions helps any team, and I think we made the most of that on this wicket," Clarke said. "All of our batters knew it was going to be quite tough on this wicket, we knew it was going to be hard to start and if you got in it was about cashing in, and I think we've seen that throughout this Test match.

"I think the last three Test matches there's been plenty there for the bowlers, but your bowlers need to execute as well. As we've seen with Patto [Pattinson], these bowlers have got the skill, it is just about being able to execute their plans."

Australia celebrate winning the Boxing Day Test, Australia v India, 1st Test, Melbourne, 4th day, December 29, 2011
Michael Clarke wants to recreate that winning feeling in Sydney © Getty Images

Consistent displays with the ball were able to overshadow some poor choices with the bat, particularly at the start of the second innings when three batsmen dragged balls onto the stumps in the course of a slide to 4 for 27. Clarke pointed to the conditions as a mitigating factor.

"What this Test match shows me is if we can knock over such a strong batting line-up like India for the amount of runs we have, there's got to be something in the wicket as well, can't just be our batters," he said. "We copped a bit of criticism for being four for not many in the second innings, but there's reasons for that, reasons for Cape Town, reasons for Hobart. They've been bowling-friendly conditions.

"I'm really happy with our batters' plans. I think we've been training as hard as any team I've been part of. So we're doing the right things, it is just about having the confidence and freedom to continue to back ourselves."

For all of the joy surrounding the Melbourne win, and contributions ranging from those of Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting to that of the debutant Ed Cowan, Clarke acknowledged there was plenty of staunch cricket still required to make the series safe. As his team have made a habit of showing recently, a week can be an awful long time in the mind and hands of a cricketer.

"There's a long way to go in this series," Clarke said. "I think it is important we enjoy our success, we've worked really hard and we deserve this win because of the amount of effort and time we've put into our preparation, but it means nothing come Sydney.

"We have to enjoy tonight, prepare well for Sydney, and play our best cricket to beat such a strong team. We'll take some confidence out of this Test match no doubt, but there is a long way to go."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by 5wombats on (December 30, 2011, 19:43 GMT)

Hey! - @Sir_Freddie_Flintoff....<<Applause>> where have you been? Could have done with your help in India during the ODI series! You are still my hero! <<blush>>. Keep posting mate! :-)

Posted by LALITHKURUWITA on (December 30, 2011, 9:19 GMT)

India needs to learn away Test matches from Sri Lanka

Posted by   on (December 30, 2011, 7:21 GMT)

can't understand why everyone blaming indians 4 playing well only at subcontinent.when other teams come to subcontimemt they are thrashed as's like my condition my way kinda situation :)

Posted by whitesXI on (December 30, 2011, 1:56 GMT)

I agreed with everything Clarke said until he started making excuses for Aus poor batting performances. First of all - whether the pitch favours the bowler should not matter. Secondly both batsmen and tailenders have proved consistently that these pitches are playable, in the recent collapses for Aus at least one player has shown the correct way to handle the conditions, the problem is the rest of the team gets out playing poor shots. In the second innings Aus were 4/27 with 3 batsmen chopping on caused by batsmen trying to play big shots before they were set, and one leaving the straight ball, those wickets were caused by poor judgement.(Not to discredit India's bowling which was superb all match). Clarke and Marsh's wickets were made more disgraceful by the position Aus were in when they took to the crease, both these experienced men should know better, and until Aus stop making the excuses for their poor batting performances will they improve them

Posted by gordyfargus on (December 30, 2011, 1:19 GMT)

Australia will compete and sometimes beat the top three teams, but in saying that they will also get beaten by some of the lower ranked teams. With an inexperienced side and some fading heroes inconsistency is to be expected. I love the look of our pace stocks (which is amazing considering a year ago it looked as if we would struggle to get twenty wickets unless Johnson had one of those 1 in twenty freaky games). The batting will take time, I hope they persist with some of the younger guys as they did in the Border days. Steve Waugh became the player he did because of the faith the selectors shown in him. Lyon looks ok, but naturally may struggle against the Indians. But he did ok against Sri Lanka and could cause some trouble for the non sub-continent teams. All in all I go into test matches excited again not knowing what to expect! As much as I loved Australia's dominant first decade of the 2000's I am just as excited to see the young stars emerge.

Posted by zenboomerang on (December 30, 2011, 0:42 GMT)

Yes, Clarke is right... Aust need to repeat a victory, but the batters are the ones letting down the team atm... Clarke out twice playing on... Ponting, Hussey inconsistent in last 2 series... Haddin - no idea about batting for the team... Marsh - give him a few more matches - same for Cowan, Warner... The top order needs to settle down & get off to good starts... Middle order needs to consistently make runs for the bowlers to defend... It would be nice for once to see the batters act as a team like our bowlers have been doing...

Posted by playitstraight on (December 30, 2011, 0:41 GMT)

Dhoni's captaincy and batting was horrible in the first Test. I was not surprised when some people said that Ashwin should bat ahead of Dhoni, naturally because Ashwin scored well in both innings. Nonetheless, a fine performance from Australia and India need to jump back instead of getting another whitewash of 4-0 like they did in England. Good luck India for the second Test!

Posted by   on (December 29, 2011, 23:51 GMT)

The Pup has matured, the game was played in the right spirit, with no gloating after victory. Australia played the better cricket and deserved to win.

Posted by CustomKid on (December 29, 2011, 21:17 GMT)

@Sir_Freddie_Flintoff and then you woke up. I admire your patriotism though, always good for a laugh.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2011, 20:49 GMT)

This australian bowling line up is going to dominate the cricket.....I wonder how England will face Cummins, pattison, siddle and one of the old they are just firing with pace....Such a brilliant bowling by Siddle and Pattison....Pakistan are better team and are stronger than India.......I will not be surprised if Pakistan beat England in UAE

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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