Australia v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sydney, 4th day January 6, 2013

Clarke drained by 'tough summer'

30

Australia have shored up a place at No. 3 on the ICC's Test rankings as a result of a 3-0 sweep of Sri Lanka. The difficulty their captain Michael Clarke now faces is the team that took them there will not be the one he leads first to India, and then to the Ashes beyond.

Losing Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting in the space of a single summer, while at the same time grooving a policy of fast-bowler management has made it a draining six Tests for Clarke, and in the wake of the five-wicket victory at the SCG he acknowledged the size of the task ahead. He also admitted to the difficulty of guiding the team while shedding such an enormous amount of experience.

If Clarke was more emotional at the time of Ponting's exit in Perth, he was clearer headed about what Hussey's retirement meant for the tours of India and England - increased difficulty. "Another man down unfortunately," Clarke said. "It's been a tough summer to be honest. It's been nice to have some guys come in and make their debut but it's been tough to see two fantastic players in Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey leave the game.

"We certainly have a tough year ahead, that's for sure. I think on our good days we're very good and can cut it with the best, like the No. 1 team in the world South Africa, but on our poor days there's a lot of areas we need to improve, both individually and as a team. I think what you've seen of the Australian team this summer probably sums up where we're at. We're fighting to get better every day, that's the positive."

Australia's performance in Sydney rather summed up the patchiness of their summer. Making an indifferent start after eminently debatable decisions both in team selection and at the coin toss, Clarke's men wrested back an advantage via the counter-punching of Matthew Wade and then pressured Sri Lanka's batsmen into a series of grievous errors on the third afternoon that ultimately determined the outcome of the match.

"The days we aren't performing as well as we can, whether that be with the ball or with the bat, we're letting ourselves down," Clarke said. "At the moment there's a bit of a gap between very good and not so good but we've got a team that's working very hard. Every day we get out of bed we're trying to get better.

"I certainly can't have a go at the boys. I think the commitment throughout the whole summer has been outstanding - the way we've trained and prepared, the role the support staff have played … We know we've got some work to do but we're up for the challenge."

While Jackson Bird's emergence as a commendably reliable paceman against Sri Lanka was arguably the most significant find of the Tests, Clarke and his fellow selectors will have some other revelations to consider ahead of India. One of the least convenient was the struggle of several batsmen against spin, notably the opener Ed Cowan, and another was the top order's lack of precision when running between the wickets. Shane Watson's future, and the team's balance, is clouded by his reluctance to continue bowling.

Clarke said the spectre of slow bowling on turning Indian pitches was something that would take plenty of skill and application to overcome, particularly now that Hussey has left the scene. "It will be really tough, especially in the second innings on the subcontinent is generally very tough to play spin bowling. I think we're improving," Clarke said. "There are areas we need to continually get better at. Spin bowling is one of those areas. In a couple of months, we're going to be faced with conditions that spin a lot, so there's no better place to get better than on the subcontinent.

"I'm really impressed with the way we finished this summer in the Test format. I was really proud of the way we fought it out against the No.1 Test team in the world. I think we have taken a lot from that series and I think we've shown improvement throughout this series."

The ODI team will be led by George Bailey for the first two matches of the series against Sri Lanka, as Clarke rests a tender hamstring, but he felt sure he would be fit and refreshed in time to return for game three in Brisbane. It will be the next phase of a year in which Clarke has now become more pivotal than ever.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • fazald on January 7, 2013, 1:11 GMT

    Michael Clarke made two serious mistakes in the final test match against Sri Lanka in Sydney. One was not batting first after winning the toss on a perfect batting wicket and piling up the runs in the first innings and putting pressure on Sri Lanka on a deteriorating spinners wicket and secondly the decision to declare before lunch on the third day when Mathew Wade was on top hammering the bowlers to all parts of the ground. Another 50 runs to the total would have put Sri Lanka under immense pressure to save the game when there was so much time left in the match with another two and a half days to go. Instead the Sri Lankan batsmen Karunaratna and Jayawardena thrashed the aussie bowlers to all parts of the ground and Sri Lanka looked set for a victory. Had Sri Lanka managed to get a lead of 200 runs Australia would have lost the match.

  • RodStark on January 7, 2013, 0:26 GMT

    Congratulations to Australia and no intentional offense to other teams, but what I think this series (and the SA-NZ series) confirms is that there are currently three good teams--SA, England, and Australia, who realistically should never lose a home test against anybody other than each other. That means that the only potentially interesting games are when they play each other or when they play away against someone else (i.e, in the subcontinent). Hopefully this will change quite soon. Pakistan have a good team but can't really challenge if they can't play home games. Thoughts?

  • Shaggy076 on January 8, 2013, 12:22 GMT

    Wefinishthis - Got to take you to task on your emergency players, what message is that sending to all the AUstralian cricketers, Burns average 30, Nevill 37, Patterson hasnt even played a shield game this year. Hussey also averaging 16 this year and Zampa has only played one shield game. THe only message that is sending is it is ok to play for New South Wales.

  • Meety on January 8, 2013, 3:31 GMT

    @RodStark on (January 07 2013, 00:26 AM GMT) - IMO, Pakistan can beat anyone, anywhere, anytime - but are just as likely to lose to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Sri Lanka just beat Sth Africa in Sth Africa & should of beaten Oz at the SCG. NZ knocked Oz off at Hobart (perfect Kiwi conditions). I don't believe the top 3 (Oz, SA & Eng) are that much beter than SL & Pakistan - with India dropping like a rock now, can only just beat NZ. BTW - I believe that Bangladesh are going to beat tough to beat on home soil in the not too distant future!

  • Wefinishthis on January 8, 2013, 0:55 GMT

    Beertjie I think you're right about Ojha and Ashwin. The only things in Australia's favour are Michael Clarke, Jackson Bird and the fact that the Indians are also a team in transition after losing so many greats. The things in the Indian's favour are the chasm in class between Lyon and the Indian spinners and that Australia has a weak top 6 barring Warner and Clarke. Therfore the best money would be on India, despite their recent losses. I'd like to see something like Hughes, Warner, Khawaja, D.Hussey, Clarke, Watson, Wade, O'Keefe, Harris, Lyon, Bird and take along Burns, Patterson, Nevill, Zampa, Siddle and Pattinson in the squad. Johnson averages 40 in India so I can't see him doing any better this time around and Starc I'm still not convinced about with the new ball.

  • B.C.G on January 7, 2013, 8:54 GMT

    @Moppa.The English would never dare to doctor the pitches;would they now.Still have nightmares of Warne probably.

  • sawifan on January 7, 2013, 8:50 GMT

    @fazald... what points are u trying to make?! Clarke didn't make bad decisions, Australia won, and quite comfortably in the end. Re: his declaration. We could have easily lost that last wkt for no more runs and wasted time to prevent that tricky few overs for the Sri openers. Clarke forced them to start twice, and it worked, with the wkt of Dilshan. And MJ and Dimuth may have been thrashing the Aussie bowlers about for a while, but they got out! with the job for from done. The Aussies hung in and never gave up. The final 5 wkt margin was very flattering to Sri Lanka, and they will know that for sure. Sure they improved from the MCG, but lets be honest, they couldn't get any worse. Stop nit-picking about imaginary scenarios from the past.

  • SkylaDark on January 7, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    Mr. Cricket and Ponting were both very important parts of the Australian team. Let's see how they fare against a broken India.

  • JoieDeVivre on January 7, 2013, 6:32 GMT

    As an Indian fan, think it's fair to say Aussies will do in India given India is in such bad shape at the moment. As always Aussies will be extremely competetive and it shouldn't come as a shock to Indian fans if Aussies beat us at home. However as most people have been saying the true test will be Ashes series specailly the one in England. The thing that would concern Aussies the most will be their batting, with Michael Hussey gone dependence on Clarke would only increase and unless the young Aussie batters come to the party, England in England will be a tough nut to crack.

  • frankmac on January 7, 2013, 4:45 GMT

    My concern for the Indian tour would be Cowan, Warner and Hughes against the spinners.

    They will be on after 4 overs every innings.

  • fazald on January 7, 2013, 1:11 GMT

    Michael Clarke made two serious mistakes in the final test match against Sri Lanka in Sydney. One was not batting first after winning the toss on a perfect batting wicket and piling up the runs in the first innings and putting pressure on Sri Lanka on a deteriorating spinners wicket and secondly the decision to declare before lunch on the third day when Mathew Wade was on top hammering the bowlers to all parts of the ground. Another 50 runs to the total would have put Sri Lanka under immense pressure to save the game when there was so much time left in the match with another two and a half days to go. Instead the Sri Lankan batsmen Karunaratna and Jayawardena thrashed the aussie bowlers to all parts of the ground and Sri Lanka looked set for a victory. Had Sri Lanka managed to get a lead of 200 runs Australia would have lost the match.

  • RodStark on January 7, 2013, 0:26 GMT

    Congratulations to Australia and no intentional offense to other teams, but what I think this series (and the SA-NZ series) confirms is that there are currently three good teams--SA, England, and Australia, who realistically should never lose a home test against anybody other than each other. That means that the only potentially interesting games are when they play each other or when they play away against someone else (i.e, in the subcontinent). Hopefully this will change quite soon. Pakistan have a good team but can't really challenge if they can't play home games. Thoughts?

  • Shaggy076 on January 8, 2013, 12:22 GMT

    Wefinishthis - Got to take you to task on your emergency players, what message is that sending to all the AUstralian cricketers, Burns average 30, Nevill 37, Patterson hasnt even played a shield game this year. Hussey also averaging 16 this year and Zampa has only played one shield game. THe only message that is sending is it is ok to play for New South Wales.

  • Meety on January 8, 2013, 3:31 GMT

    @RodStark on (January 07 2013, 00:26 AM GMT) - IMO, Pakistan can beat anyone, anywhere, anytime - but are just as likely to lose to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Sri Lanka just beat Sth Africa in Sth Africa & should of beaten Oz at the SCG. NZ knocked Oz off at Hobart (perfect Kiwi conditions). I don't believe the top 3 (Oz, SA & Eng) are that much beter than SL & Pakistan - with India dropping like a rock now, can only just beat NZ. BTW - I believe that Bangladesh are going to beat tough to beat on home soil in the not too distant future!

  • Wefinishthis on January 8, 2013, 0:55 GMT

    Beertjie I think you're right about Ojha and Ashwin. The only things in Australia's favour are Michael Clarke, Jackson Bird and the fact that the Indians are also a team in transition after losing so many greats. The things in the Indian's favour are the chasm in class between Lyon and the Indian spinners and that Australia has a weak top 6 barring Warner and Clarke. Therfore the best money would be on India, despite their recent losses. I'd like to see something like Hughes, Warner, Khawaja, D.Hussey, Clarke, Watson, Wade, O'Keefe, Harris, Lyon, Bird and take along Burns, Patterson, Nevill, Zampa, Siddle and Pattinson in the squad. Johnson averages 40 in India so I can't see him doing any better this time around and Starc I'm still not convinced about with the new ball.

  • B.C.G on January 7, 2013, 8:54 GMT

    @Moppa.The English would never dare to doctor the pitches;would they now.Still have nightmares of Warne probably.

  • sawifan on January 7, 2013, 8:50 GMT

    @fazald... what points are u trying to make?! Clarke didn't make bad decisions, Australia won, and quite comfortably in the end. Re: his declaration. We could have easily lost that last wkt for no more runs and wasted time to prevent that tricky few overs for the Sri openers. Clarke forced them to start twice, and it worked, with the wkt of Dilshan. And MJ and Dimuth may have been thrashing the Aussie bowlers about for a while, but they got out! with the job for from done. The Aussies hung in and never gave up. The final 5 wkt margin was very flattering to Sri Lanka, and they will know that for sure. Sure they improved from the MCG, but lets be honest, they couldn't get any worse. Stop nit-picking about imaginary scenarios from the past.

  • SkylaDark on January 7, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    Mr. Cricket and Ponting were both very important parts of the Australian team. Let's see how they fare against a broken India.

  • JoieDeVivre on January 7, 2013, 6:32 GMT

    As an Indian fan, think it's fair to say Aussies will do in India given India is in such bad shape at the moment. As always Aussies will be extremely competetive and it shouldn't come as a shock to Indian fans if Aussies beat us at home. However as most people have been saying the true test will be Ashes series specailly the one in England. The thing that would concern Aussies the most will be their batting, with Michael Hussey gone dependence on Clarke would only increase and unless the young Aussie batters come to the party, England in England will be a tough nut to crack.

  • frankmac on January 7, 2013, 4:45 GMT

    My concern for the Indian tour would be Cowan, Warner and Hughes against the spinners.

    They will be on after 4 overs every innings.

  • Flemo_Gilly on January 7, 2013, 3:48 GMT

    @Andross i think Khawaja will settle well into the team, he has improved all aspects of his game this year and most importantly has been scoring in some tough conditions which we will need for the ashes. @Barnsey444 i would go for Khawaja over D Hussey simply because the younger Hussey has averaged 15 in shield this year while Khawja has averaged 40 and is the second highest shield scorer not to mention runs in Big Bash and Ryobi. @Paresh Soni you will see Khawaja soon and can see why he is regarded as one of the better young batmsan in the country. For the bowling we must lock in Siddle, Pattinson, Starc, Lyon and Bird for the ashes.

  • Shaggy076 on January 7, 2013, 3:34 GMT

    I believe the Australian team over the last 18 months has improved significantly. There is a reliance on Clarke but that is magnified by his massive average over that period. We still would have won a lot of those games without his contribution. When Warner walked into the side I would have agreed with Perish SOni that he was just a 20/20 slogger. I didnt expect his technique to stand up to the might of the South African attack and he would be gone before the Ashes. But I have watched him in Australia and have changed my opinion, he is agressive but has the ability to hit the ball to all areas along the ground. His footwork is a lot more impressive than a Sehwag and now hold out hope he will be quite good in England. I would continue to open with Cowan in England we need a grafter, Hughes Mark 2 has improved significantly. Khawaja I think will be ok at the number 6 role and suddenly our batting aint so bad. Although England deserve to be favourites I reckon we will put up a great show

  • Moppa on January 7, 2013, 1:59 GMT

    Some very insightful comments here guys! @RJHB, if England have seen Wade keep to spin, they might just consider some very dry pitches for the Ashes! Re Warner/Hughes v the moving ball, all batsmen, not just those two, are susceptible to good late swing. Like @Jono Makim I think Hughes mark 2 (or 3?) is more reliable and Warner is no more boom/bust than most batsmen. @RodStark, yep, agreed to everything. @Meety, generally agree but, sadly, I feel Starc has regressed this summer - he really bowled some tripe at the SCG and for the most part at Hobart and Perth too. He's on the way to being a white ball specialist for Oz. @Bertijee like your squad, although I wouldn't take Cowan as a back-up batsman (too inflexible) and Pattinson is first paceman picked if fit. I'd also have Harris ahead of Starc (if fit). @Paresh Soni, agree with others that you've made a good assessment. I don't think we can play five bowlers in England. Maybe we could in India, if O'Keefe is one of them.

  • RJHB on January 7, 2013, 0:58 GMT

    @Paresh Soni, good post, for an English fan! Take your point about Anderson and the Aussie openers, I do fear Warner may not handle the swinging Duke ball all that well, no Hughes for that matter. As for the brittleness of the fast bowlers, well sure, but there have been extenuating circumstances. Siddle and Hilf would never have been so wrecked after Adelaide had we not lost Pattinson in the first innings. I doubt Cummins will tour but Bird looks tailor made for English conditions. One must also remember though that the Poms bowling stocks aren't as good as the Indian tour indicates. England are unlikely to bowl both Swann and Monty in home conditions together, and Australia haven't generally had too many problems against them in the past. Anderson is a canny bowler now but Finn is as fragile as any Aussie bowler this summer! Broad will be better in home conditions but he, along with Anderson, still has a bowling average over 30. Recall Tremlett? Difference is definitely the batting.

  • Meety on January 7, 2013, 0:00 GMT

    Cric Oz should give Clarke as much time as he wants. He is now far & away our most valuable cricket asset & needs to be managed more thoroughly than our pacers. Looking back on the summer, you would say 3-1 from 6 tests was a good return. Reality was it was so near yet so far, the injury curse striking our pacers has not seemed to let up, the Watto conundrum is no closer to being sorted & key personell retired, on the positive, we pushed the Saffas to the brink, small slice of luck & we could of knocked them off, Warner continues to improve, Bird is a quality Test bowler, Siddle/Starc/MJ have all improved as bowlers, Clarke continues to slay them (for how much longer?).

    All up I would say that Oz get about a 7.5/10 for the summer.

  • Barnesy4444 on January 6, 2013, 23:42 GMT

    Beertje, I agree with you. I thought Watson was too good a bowler to waste as opening but if his body seriously can't handle bowling then he should return to opener. Cowan tries hard but I can't see him being a long term prospect. Warner and Hughes are long term. I also agree that Wade needs to work on his 'keeping to spinners, it really is quite poor right now. Other parts of his game are fine but he has 4 tests coming up soon that will test him........... Until Cowan gets dropped Khawaja, Doolan, Watson and D. Hussey should fight for the two spots at 5 & 6 (Clarke must bat at 4)

  • Andross on January 6, 2013, 23:33 GMT

    @Paresh Soni I see your points, and all of them are pretty accurate I think, but we'll see what happens through the series in India when a few of our players have been given some more time on the field. I think that our bowling team, if we get the right guys recovered from injury and fit are easily a match for South Africa's vaunted bowling line up, except in the exception you noted of spin. The batting line up will all depend on whether Khawaja settles into the team, and whether Hughes proves himself on slower pitches.

    On the other hand, while I wouldn't be surprised if we lost in England, I think that we'll probably surprise you on the home leg... unless we REALLY get struck down by injuries...

  • Barnesy4444 on January 6, 2013, 23:30 GMT

    Some batsman do need to work on playing spin. But our number one spinner also needs to learn. Lyon was bamboozled by Herath when batting, Herath bowled a slow looping 77km delivery, then an 84km drifter, another 77km ball then fired in a 95km ball at the stumps and bowled Lyon. Variety. Lyon comes in and every ball is 88km. Every single ball is the same speed, 88km. He's not a bad bowler but Lyon needs to learn from Herath. What's Warney doing, why isn't he teaching Lyon these simple things?

  • InnocentGuy on January 6, 2013, 23:21 GMT

    Well Clarkey, don't worry about the India series. Any team you bring over will be good enough for a clean sweep. Worry about and plan for the Ashes.

  • on January 6, 2013, 22:21 GMT

    "Australia have risen to No. 3 on the ICC's Test rankings as a result of a 3-0 sweep of Sri Lanka. "

    Ummm, Daniel, what rock have you been under? They were challenging for number 1 against SA (any sort of series win would have given them top spot) and have been number 3 for some months. They got very very few points for the SL whitewash, and are 8 points clear of 4. They have not "risen" to 3, they have merely stayed there.

  • disco_bob on January 6, 2013, 22:12 GMT

    @Paresh Soni, fair enough assessment, winning in England will be tough but you seem to imply that this team is not growing and learning fast with a shrewd captain at the helm. After what are sure to be gruelling series in India and England, you might not be so confident about the second b, in b2b Ashes. With regards to Khawaja, you'll be seeing him soon enough.

  • Beertjie on January 6, 2013, 19:36 GMT

    @CricketMaan on (January 06 2013, 17:12 PM GMT) I think it goes a lot deeper than "The only weak link is spinner, but the fact that they have some quality pace will offset it." Delhi is only 47 days away and the low slow pitch of todays Ind v Pak game suggests that Ojha and Ashwin will outbowl our lot. Selections are vital but the clueless NSP will stuff up again, I fear. Best team for Delhi would be: Watson (wants to return to opening and should be encouraged provided the reluctant bowler can give us no more than 10 overs per innings), Warner, Hughes, Clarke, Khawaja, D. Hussey (emergency breakdown bowler), Haddin/Wade (whoever commits fewer errors in keeping to spinners), O'Keefe, Starc, Siddle, Lyon/Bird. Others in party: Cowan, Pattinson, Johnson. Just keep Smith, Maxwell away from the test team for a while. Zampa/Boyce might learn something if taken as apprentices.

  • Webba84 on January 6, 2013, 19:27 GMT

    Still not seeing the selection decisions as contentious. 5 batsman against this attack in a dead rubber to experiment with the bowling and allrounder situation is hardly censor worthy hubris, looks a lot more like intelligent forward planning to me.

  • johntycodes on January 6, 2013, 18:30 GMT

    What about the tough task of picking a spinner that actually spins the ball for india. Another poor match at the most turning wicket in australia for lyon with only 2 wickets for the match.

  • on January 6, 2013, 18:17 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK, I don't really see how it is boom or bust with Warner? He is becoming one of Australia's most consistent batsmen. 4 50's in a row in this series before his first ball duck here. It only took him one more innings to get to a 1000 runs than Cook. I think Hughes too, if he can make that step back up to international, which i'm backing im to do, will also become a consistent performer. Played a couple of good innings in this series. I reckon you are spot on with the bowlers though. It is hard to build a career on speed unless your action is repeatable all day. Shoaib, Lee and Bond all spring to mind here. Great on their day but they all ran themselves into the ground doing it. Siddle, Bird and Starc however all look to have reasonable actions that will not put excess stresses on their bodies.

  • CricketMaan on January 6, 2013, 17:12 GMT

    Clarke can take heart from the fact that India has been his fav hunting ground and along with Warner, Watto they have upper hand. The only weak link is spinner, but the fact that they have some quality pace will offset it. Siddle is a diff bowler since his debut in Mohali and will lead the attack. Cant want to see Warner play in Delhi..remember Kholi taunting him in Perth during that 180..'come to Delhi we will show you..' lol

  • DeckChairand6pack on January 6, 2013, 15:41 GMT

    Another frank and realistic assessment from Michael Clarke, the guy is under no illusions and talks perfect sense. As an SA fan I'm afraid it won't be too long before they are back contesting. It's a shame about Pattinson and Cummins, they looked the part although I'm sure once they are fit again they will deliver the goods. Even without them Aus have some decent batters and bowlers and it won't be long before they run another diamond off of the factory line.

  • on January 6, 2013, 14:36 GMT

    As an Englishman watching on, there are positives and negatives for the Aussies. Losing two batting stalwarts will hurt them in the two back-to-back Ashes series. The dependence on the magnificent Michael Clarke for runs will be even greater. Warner and Hughes are exciting but England's bowlers, especially Anderson in English conditions, will enjoy taking on dashers. By the way, what has happened to that great hope called Usman Khawaja? He looked the part 12 months ago.

    The Aussie pace bowling cupboard is overflowing, although its contents are as brittle as they are tasty. The spin options, by contrast, are dire. No Aussie spinner will keep England's batsmen awake at night.

    The other concern would be the balance of the Aussie line-up if Watson doesn't bowl. Can they risk five batsmen, or only four bowlers and one of them breaks down? England, despite their own issues, are still the stronger all-round team and should win home and away.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on January 6, 2013, 14:07 GMT

    Well I'm just happy to see that Aus. are finally looking beyond pace-obsessed, injury-prone bowlers like Pattinson, Cummins etc. etc. that only last a few overs before being carried off the field. Starc, Bird, Siddle, and McKay are a welcome breath of fresh air and are the ones for Aus. to work with. Disappointed with Lyon; I thought he could have done better, but sloppy keeping from 'batsman Wade in gloves' did lose him a few wickets to his name. Aus. badly need a wrist-spinner. Warner and Hughes in tests... kudos, but nail-biting stuff when their in the middle; it's boom or bust with them, and players like Cowan and Clarke will be under pressure to steady the ship.

  • HatsforBats on January 6, 2013, 13:29 GMT

    If India bowl even half as well as Herath has in this series, Australia will be in for a tough time. Cowan & Hughes looked absolutely lost today; neither are natural sweepers and Cowan seemed addicted to it as if he learned how to play spin from some guy at the pub telling him how Hayden dominated in India. And Lyon's love affair with 88.8 kph darts is a worry, poor Siddle will be carrying a fair load I'm afraid.

  • HatsforBats on January 6, 2013, 13:29 GMT

    If India bowl even half as well as Herath has in this series, Australia will be in for a tough time. Cowan & Hughes looked absolutely lost today; neither are natural sweepers and Cowan seemed addicted to it as if he learned how to play spin from some guy at the pub telling him how Hayden dominated in India. And Lyon's love affair with 88.8 kph darts is a worry, poor Siddle will be carrying a fair load I'm afraid.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on January 6, 2013, 14:07 GMT

    Well I'm just happy to see that Aus. are finally looking beyond pace-obsessed, injury-prone bowlers like Pattinson, Cummins etc. etc. that only last a few overs before being carried off the field. Starc, Bird, Siddle, and McKay are a welcome breath of fresh air and are the ones for Aus. to work with. Disappointed with Lyon; I thought he could have done better, but sloppy keeping from 'batsman Wade in gloves' did lose him a few wickets to his name. Aus. badly need a wrist-spinner. Warner and Hughes in tests... kudos, but nail-biting stuff when their in the middle; it's boom or bust with them, and players like Cowan and Clarke will be under pressure to steady the ship.

  • on January 6, 2013, 14:36 GMT

    As an Englishman watching on, there are positives and negatives for the Aussies. Losing two batting stalwarts will hurt them in the two back-to-back Ashes series. The dependence on the magnificent Michael Clarke for runs will be even greater. Warner and Hughes are exciting but England's bowlers, especially Anderson in English conditions, will enjoy taking on dashers. By the way, what has happened to that great hope called Usman Khawaja? He looked the part 12 months ago.

    The Aussie pace bowling cupboard is overflowing, although its contents are as brittle as they are tasty. The spin options, by contrast, are dire. No Aussie spinner will keep England's batsmen awake at night.

    The other concern would be the balance of the Aussie line-up if Watson doesn't bowl. Can they risk five batsmen, or only four bowlers and one of them breaks down? England, despite their own issues, are still the stronger all-round team and should win home and away.

  • DeckChairand6pack on January 6, 2013, 15:41 GMT

    Another frank and realistic assessment from Michael Clarke, the guy is under no illusions and talks perfect sense. As an SA fan I'm afraid it won't be too long before they are back contesting. It's a shame about Pattinson and Cummins, they looked the part although I'm sure once they are fit again they will deliver the goods. Even without them Aus have some decent batters and bowlers and it won't be long before they run another diamond off of the factory line.

  • CricketMaan on January 6, 2013, 17:12 GMT

    Clarke can take heart from the fact that India has been his fav hunting ground and along with Warner, Watto they have upper hand. The only weak link is spinner, but the fact that they have some quality pace will offset it. Siddle is a diff bowler since his debut in Mohali and will lead the attack. Cant want to see Warner play in Delhi..remember Kholi taunting him in Perth during that 180..'come to Delhi we will show you..' lol

  • on January 6, 2013, 18:17 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK, I don't really see how it is boom or bust with Warner? He is becoming one of Australia's most consistent batsmen. 4 50's in a row in this series before his first ball duck here. It only took him one more innings to get to a 1000 runs than Cook. I think Hughes too, if he can make that step back up to international, which i'm backing im to do, will also become a consistent performer. Played a couple of good innings in this series. I reckon you are spot on with the bowlers though. It is hard to build a career on speed unless your action is repeatable all day. Shoaib, Lee and Bond all spring to mind here. Great on their day but they all ran themselves into the ground doing it. Siddle, Bird and Starc however all look to have reasonable actions that will not put excess stresses on their bodies.

  • johntycodes on January 6, 2013, 18:30 GMT

    What about the tough task of picking a spinner that actually spins the ball for india. Another poor match at the most turning wicket in australia for lyon with only 2 wickets for the match.

  • Webba84 on January 6, 2013, 19:27 GMT

    Still not seeing the selection decisions as contentious. 5 batsman against this attack in a dead rubber to experiment with the bowling and allrounder situation is hardly censor worthy hubris, looks a lot more like intelligent forward planning to me.

  • Beertjie on January 6, 2013, 19:36 GMT

    @CricketMaan on (January 06 2013, 17:12 PM GMT) I think it goes a lot deeper than "The only weak link is spinner, but the fact that they have some quality pace will offset it." Delhi is only 47 days away and the low slow pitch of todays Ind v Pak game suggests that Ojha and Ashwin will outbowl our lot. Selections are vital but the clueless NSP will stuff up again, I fear. Best team for Delhi would be: Watson (wants to return to opening and should be encouraged provided the reluctant bowler can give us no more than 10 overs per innings), Warner, Hughes, Clarke, Khawaja, D. Hussey (emergency breakdown bowler), Haddin/Wade (whoever commits fewer errors in keeping to spinners), O'Keefe, Starc, Siddle, Lyon/Bird. Others in party: Cowan, Pattinson, Johnson. Just keep Smith, Maxwell away from the test team for a while. Zampa/Boyce might learn something if taken as apprentices.

  • disco_bob on January 6, 2013, 22:12 GMT

    @Paresh Soni, fair enough assessment, winning in England will be tough but you seem to imply that this team is not growing and learning fast with a shrewd captain at the helm. After what are sure to be gruelling series in India and England, you might not be so confident about the second b, in b2b Ashes. With regards to Khawaja, you'll be seeing him soon enough.