Pakistan v Australia, 3rd ODI, Sharjah September 4, 2012

Clarke proud of all-round Australia


Australia's captain Michael Clarke said there was a great feeling around the squad after their 2-1 series win against Pakistan, a victory all the more special because of the conditions in which the matches were played. In sapping heat and humidity, the Australians avoided their first series loss to Pakistan in a decade and Clarke was especially pleased with the way the workload was spread throughout his side.

In conditions suited to spin, the fast bowler Mitchell Starc was named Player of the Series for his nine wickets at 15.11; the allrounder Glenn Maxwell impressed on his first international tour, securing the final win in Sharjah with a brisk unbeaten half-century; and Clarke and George Bailey both made valuable contributions with the bat during the series.

David Hussey, opening the batting for the first time in his 64 ODIs, helped give Australia a solid start to their chase of 245 with his 43 at nearly a run a ball, but especially impressive was the form of his brother. At 37, Michael Hussey was the oldest man in the squad but showed no signs of slowing down in the heat, and his 65 in the third match - his second half-century of the series - set up Australia's three-wicket victory.

"As captain of this team and the Test team it's important for me to have a mix of youth and experience," Clarke told reporters in Sharjah after the win. "I think that showed today. You saw Maxwell, who is young and hasn't played too much cricket, not much fear and go out and play his natural game. But without the experience and knowledge of both the Hussey brothers but especially Michael, we don't win tonight and we don't win the series.

"I changed the batting order after we fielded. Matthew Wade was a little but tired from fielding but I always had it in my mind that it was going to be an opportunity for a right-left-handed opening combination. I've always had confidence in the way David Hussey plays spin bowling, he's a very good player of spin bowling, but he hadn't scored too many runs on this tour.

"I thought if he opened the batting it will leave him a couple of overs to see the new ball before spin plays a part. I guess that's why I took that risk opening with him. As he showed, he's a class player and got a good start. We knew the first ten overs were going to be crictical to set the game up. The ball was hard, only two fielders out. We knew the first ten overs we had to be positive. Then it was left to the individual to play their natural game."

The Australians managed to handle Saeed Ajmal's spin well enough to win the match, although he again proved Pakistan's most dangerous bowler with 3 for 37. Throughout the series, Pakistan did not have a fast man who had the impact of Starc, who had played only eight ODIs before the series began, and fought off a minor chest injury suffered during the second match to 4 for 51 in the third game.

"He's had a great series and deserves Man of the Series," Clarke said. "In these conditions there hasn't been much for the fast bowlers at all. As a batter you look forward to facing fast bowlers at any opportunity. He deserves a lot of credit. He's made the most of his opportunity. He's been fighting hard for a spot in this Australian one-day team for a while now and I think he's grabbed it with both hands."

Starc will be part of Australia's T20 squad for the three matches coming up over the next week, and there will be a slight changeover in personnel, with Shane Watson, Cameron White, Ben Hilfenhaus, Pat Cummins and the 41-year-old Brad Hogg joining the squad. Clarke, who does not play T20 internationals, will head home along with several other players, but he believes the group will be parting on a high.

"The feeling around the group is a great feeling at the moment, especially after losing 4-0 to England," he said. "The guys should be really proud of this series. It was a tough victory against a very good one-day team in Pakistan.

"We worked really hard before coming on this series. We were up in Darwin as a team and worked hard against spin bowling. We found conditions so different to what we tried to prepare for up in Darwin, especially in the heat. I've never played in heat like this, in humidity like this. The most pleasing thing is the whole series was won by the whole team, it wasn't one individual player."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2012, 8:01 GMT

    Michael Clarke's comments: It is always good to receive a compliment from the winners for the losers. It is simply being generous. Do Pakistanis also give compliments to the winner or only excuses? Afridi is now gone past sell by date. Umer Akmal has a temperamental problem, might have a talent but no good not showing the talent figuratively. Kamran Akmal misses too many as a wicketkeeper and the bat. Afridi could become celebrity promoting Cricket rather than actually taking part in it. He could play an over during lunch and tea breaks, hit few sixes and please the crowd.

  • Richard on September 5, 2012, 3:33 GMT

    @Kingtal-Have to agree about bowling machines mate. Whilst they're good for drilling in muscle memory for shots a player wants to work on they give little practice in 'decision making', and that's what I always wanted to practice in the nets.

  • Andrew on September 5, 2012, 2:58 GMT

    @Andrew Fouria - mate, I think you're a bit harsh on Maxwell's bowling. Whilst I don't think he is anywhere near good enuff as a frontline spin-bowler, an ave of 36 in Shield/FC cricket is in recent times VERY good. Also his E/R in List A games is quite good - only marginally worse than Doherty, but better than DHussey & S Smith. In T20's an E/R of sub 8 rpo (he is 7.47) is quite good, although I agree that it would appear he is NOT a wicket taker in the short forms. I think his role will develop into almost a Symonds-like role, provide middle to low order punch in the batting, a good (great?) fielding presence & 4 or 5 overs of economical spin bowling (Symonds was probably good for 7 to 10 overs).

  • Ragavendran on September 5, 2012, 1:34 GMT

    @leggetinoz: Good to see support for David Hussey in tests, strange to see him ignored by selectors after admitting that they have no depth. Do you want to replace Warner or Cowan with D Hussey?

  • David on September 5, 2012, 0:06 GMT

    @ Biggus and Jason Bray - totally agree. Its in the best interests of cricket to see a very strong Pakistan side - if for no other reason but to offset Indian financial and political domination of the sport. And Pakistan will get there - they have millions of cricket obsessed kids played cricket 24/7 (I know - I've been there and seem them!) in very challenging conditions - unlike Australia where it is no longer played formally in primary school, the talented kids go to the football codes, and state and district teams get a little weaker every year. Other problem with cricket here in Australia is that the youngsters just get put onto bowling machines from the get go - so they play predictive cricket and struggle at higher levels in swinging and turning conditions. Pakistan will be top 3 in 10 years - sooner if they sort out their political instability at home. Good luck to them.

  • Dummy4 on September 4, 2012, 19:52 GMT

    Good to see Maxwell deliver on his obvious talent, but one thing I don't get is why they thought he could bowl. Look at his domestic bowling figures. They are pretty rubbish, he went without for good reason.

  • Munaf on September 4, 2012, 16:09 GMT

    Excellent never say die atitude , confident but not overconfidence in own abilities unlike self overhyped opposition , application and proper planning and execution of gameplan agaist odds won them the series. Never underestimate Aussies even if conditions favor you. Besides opposition consisted of players like Afridi, UA, Misbah, Tanvir who are tried and tested failures

  • Richard on September 4, 2012, 14:04 GMT

    @Jason Bray-I think that's particularly well said mate. I think sometimes Pakistan supporters feel that the rest of the cricket community is somehow 'against them' but for you, and myself, and a great many Aussie cricket lovers, that couldn't be further from the truth. International cricket without Pakistan is unthinkable, and it's an enormous pity that we can't play there at the moment. Despite the dew issue, which ended up having far too much influence on the outcomes, the venues produced good pitches for ODIs, there was a bit there for everybody, and the crowds added to the good atmosphere. The games were played in a really good spirit too, Jamshed's 'walking' last night being indicative of that. Yes indeed, an odd series but for several reasons I found it compelling. Watching Ajmal bowl is an absolute treat! I'm converted, where do I sign? Ajmal ftw. The Afghanistan game was good too. What say about Aus Vs Pak Vs Afg tri-series down under? That I'd like to see!

  • Dummy4 on September 4, 2012, 12:00 GMT

    These strange little one day series out of season are still a bit strange. Why not chuck a test or two in there to give it some substance? Nonetheless unlike the recent English series which was crammed into an already busy summer, it is important for the international community to get behind Pakistan and give them regular international cricket while they are in an exile of sorts. Like many cricket lovers i am hoping for the very best for Pakistani cricket and glad we had a competitive series with them.

  • Dummy4 on September 4, 2012, 11:34 GMT

    Meh. Australia's boring as hell to watch play now. Their aggression's gone, their class is gone. This series was boring, more like a competition of which of the two sides played their worst ever cricket. Utterly boring. Pakistan need to get their act together too, for the sake of entertaining cricket.

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