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India hurt, but I have no regrets - Clarke

ESPNcricinfo staff

July 24, 2014

Comments: 44 | Text size: A | A

MS Dhoni stumps Michael Clarke, India v Australia, 3rd Test, Mohali, 2nd day, March 15, 2013
The tour of India was a humbling experience for Australia © BCCI
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Almost a year ago to the day, Michael Clarke sat at Lord's embarrassed by his team's 347-run hammering which had seen them go 2-0 down in the Ashes. It was a low point, another one for Clarke in what was developing into a horrendous year for Australia but which finished with them overwhelming England in the return series.

A few months previously, on the tour of India, Clarke had been involved in the decision to suspend four players in an incident dubbed 'homework-gate' after Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, James Pattinson and Usman Khawaja had failed to follow team orders between the second and third Tests of a series Australia went on to lose 4-0.

At the time Clarke made clear he was supportive of the disciplinary measures taken alongside Mickey Arthur, the coach, who would be sacked just days before the Ashes series in England began to be replaced by Darren Lehmann. And now, looking back at what he terms the "toughest period" of his captaincy, Clarke is adamant he has no regrets.

"In the build up to that event, there were a number of things that occurred over a long period of time; it wasn't just that event," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Mickey drew a line in the sand and yes, I was a part of it, I stand by that, but I don't regret it one bit. I backed my coach, I supported him and I believe the decision, especially now that I look back, was the best decision for Australian cricket."

However, what really cut to the core for Clarke was the label attached to his side during, and after, that tour of India. "I was more disappointed and upset at the fact a team I was captaining was labelled the worst Australian team to tour India; I blame me."

Of those players suspended for the Mohali Test, only Khawaja has now faded from the scene after playing three of the Ashes Tests in England. Watson returned to captain Australia in the final Test of the India series when Clarke was injured and would end up playing all 10 Tests in the back-to-back Ashes.

Johnson returned to the side against England in Brisbane with devastating effect and Pattinson, who began the Ashes in England before succumbing to another injury, regained his Test berth for the decider against South Africa in Cape Town, although he is once again under the cloud of a back problem.

The victory against South Africa at Newlands continued Australia's resurgence and a couple of months later, when the ICC rankings were updated, they had edged above South Africa into the No. 1 position. But Clarke is now determined to look forward at a period where his team will play Test series against Pakistan in UAE and India at home before the World Cup and then an Ashes rematch later in 2015.

"There's a hell of a lot still to achieve, I think our team's still growing," Clarke said. "I still don't think we're at our best as a group, but we're extremely proud of what we have achieved. We've got India, a tough test team coming to Australia this summer, and then we go back to England next summer for the Ashes, so there's still a lot of tough cricket in front of us, but we're excited by that."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (July 25, 2014, 21:25 GMT)

Mathew McNulty - I'm not sure why you are blaming India, Australia and England for the fact you only have 3 test series. It has nothing to do with them. It is the South African cricket board that is determining this. In the test series against Australia in South Africa prior to the last one, there were only two tests. Both sides were frustrated with this but the South African Cricket board wanted to play one-dayers and 20-20's instead. Given the handful of people that turn up to test cricket in South Africa, I can see why.

Australia would love to play South Africa in a 5 test series in Australia, especially over the Boxing Day and New Years test. But South Africa will not play because they have there own series over Christmas. So they will only agree to play a short 3 test series early in the season. We are all frustrated by this. It is South Africa who won't play 5 test series. Not other countries.

Posted by Biggus on (July 25, 2014, 13:42 GMT)

@Matthew McNulty:- Yeah, there are plenty of us over this side of the Indian Ocean who aren't all that fond of the big three idea too. Personally it goes against my idea of fair play but CA isn't listening to the core fans anymore it seems. We love playing you guys, you fight hard and you don't take a backward step, but is CSA actively pursuing longer test series? I'm sure CA would be happy to host you guys for five tests here from a monetary point alone. The games would be packed out I'm sure. I reckon after the Ashes SA would be the biggest draw here now that the Windies have lost their magic. I understand we have 40,000 ex Saffers in the Perth area alone.

Posted by   on (July 25, 2014, 13:40 GMT)

@Matthew. You only need to look at the attendances in SA , as recently as playing Australia at home because there was almost more Aussies at the games in SA than your own fans so that isn't helping that no one is turning up. But yes can understand your frustration as SA should be playing atleast 3 test series.

Posted by   on (July 25, 2014, 13:18 GMT)

I'm not sure how the Aussies managed to get to no.1 in the rankings. Yes they beat SA, but SA beat them in their backyard just before that. Some how the win against a poor England counted for so much. SA have been unbeaten in the road since 2006* or something like that, and Aus are no.1?

Anyways my main gripe is that as a saffa I'm extremely upset with the amount of test cricket we are getting, 2 matches here, 3 matches there. When Aus, Eng, and India all get 5 match series, and usually with each other. It's a load of bs that I can see continuing now that those countries have hijacked world cricket.

As for Michael Clarke, good man, good captain!

Posted by   on (July 25, 2014, 12:19 GMT)

yes as I have mentioned in my previous comment no doubt aussies and safs are the two best teams mainly because both have good fast bowlers backed up by good fielding too. ofcourse batters too contribute. but the main imp advantage to aussies is Clarke is very aggressive captain. Good luck to both teams

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (July 25, 2014, 10:03 GMT)

I think South Africa have to win the current series against Sri Lanka, be that 1-0 or 2-0, in order to recapture the number one spot.

Lots of exciting cricket coming up at last. Got a lot of respect for Clarke, as a player and a captain alike. Would like to see him go on and on in tests.

Posted by dunger.bob on (July 25, 2014, 9:42 GMT)

@ Biggus: "As long as our guys are fighting it out I'm a happy camper." Yeah, me too. It's unrealistic to expect to be at the top all the time. Top sport just doesn't work like that. I'm really happy about the way the boy's have bounced back under the wise old eye of Boof Lehmann but I can see there's still a ship-load of work to do before we can relax. We've got holes that need fixing but there's no point in worrying too much. If our system and our really young guys are good enough we'll plug each gap as it arises. .. If they aren't good enough, we'll get splattered. That's how sport works and there ain't no use thinking otherwise.

Posted by _-Will-_ on (July 25, 2014, 8:28 GMT)

What a dramatic year - 18 months or more for test cricket in general!

I like @siddhartha87's point about not worrying too much about who will dominate in the future. I think it applies on a smaller time scale too - is it possible to enjoy a match without agonizing over series outcomes or tours that are months away? Probably not, I know I can't always do it!

As an Indian I have always liked Clarke as a captain. Even when he was busy presiding over the 4-0 thrashing we received as his guests, it was hard to fault his leadership. I also liked his attitude when we returned the favour - straight up with the media - no excuses.

The Pakistan series is of huge interest to me. I remember watching on tv the absolutely clinical 3-0 whitewash Pakistan delivered to England not long ago - total masterclass in spin bowling. The saddest part was the sea of empty seats for nearly all of it.

Much has happened since but I think this one really could go either way. Pity its only 2 matches this time

Posted by Biggus on (July 25, 2014, 8:07 GMT)

@dunger.bob:- I have no problem with the Saffers regaining top spot. I think they probably deserve it more than us atm. It's no big deal to me anyway as I've said before. I'm just glad our guys are showing the spirit we expect from them. It seemed to go missing for a couple of years there which worried me far more than a lack of strength on paper. As long as our guys are fighting it out I'm a happy camper.

@Jamie Monaghan:- The series versus SA deserved five tests for sure, it was cracking stuff. Had it gone to five I reckon we'd have lost without the Rhino in our attack. I'm going to miss the bugger when he retires.

Posted by dunger.bob on (July 25, 2014, 7:48 GMT)

@ Biggus: Yep, there's no clear cut mega-team atm. It's musical chairs but I agree that South Africa, should they regain it, are very deserving. They've shown an ability to be hard to be good everywhere and in today's cricket landscape, that's enough to be regarded as the top side (technically) imo. We'll get it back eventually if where're good enough.

@ Raj Sundararaman: I get your point about our 'Dads Army' image, but to be honest it's not something most Aussies worry about too much. We tend to pick what we think are our best players and if they're good enough they're old/young enough. The last time India was here the team was packed with veterans and lots of Indian comments were having a go at us because they thought we had let our legends go too soon. .. Now India is full of youngsters and we're being told a youth policy is the way to go. .. With all due respect to Indian cricket, this isn't exactly our first barbeque and we'll more than likely just do it our way. .. Cheers.

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