Sri Lanka v Australia, 3rd Test, Colombo, 5th day

At last, a captain's knock

Michael Clarke's poise as a leader has been striking, exhibiting a superb feel for the game. But he waited until the final day of the series to produce the sort of spinal contribution that can define a captain

Daniel Brettig at the SSC

September 20, 2011

Comments: 59 | Text size: A | A

Michael Clarke made his first Test ton as captain, Sri Lanka v Australia, 3rd Test, Colombo, 5th day, September 20, 2011
Not since Michael Clarke's 151 on debut in Bangalore had he made a hundred so important to the outcome of a series © AFP

Australia waited a long time for an innings like this. Not since January 2010 had the Test captain put his stamp on a match with a century, a double by Ricky Ponting against Pakistan in Hobart. Not since October 2004, his 151 on debut against India in Bangalore, had Michael Clarke made a hundred quite so important to the outcome of a series.

There were mitigating factors. The pitch was too amiable for a fifth day deck, with the exception of a handful of deliveries that spat out of the rough. The bowling was nowhere near the standard of some of the attacks Clarke has had to face, not least the parsimonious Englishmen who so dismantled his game outside off stump during the Ashes last summer. The display was not chance-less, as Prasanna Jayawardene twice spilled opportunities to complete stumpings from the crafty, later rewarded bowling of Rangana Herath. And the match faded to a bore draw, unedifying in its anti-climax.

But these environmental and technical concerns paled next to the mental and the social. Clarke had to show he could bat for his team, to save a match and preserve a series lead. Well as Clarke has led in this series, including an admirably bold 60 in the second innings in Galle, his overall batting record is that of a talented individual more so than a deeply committed team man. Seven years ago in Bangalore Clarke had hinted at greatness, but most of his efforts since have fallen short of that promise. Until today he had perhaps not made another century of similar resonance.

By Clarke's own reckoning, his three best innings before this Test stood out for reasons of personal circumstances. A century in the West Indies in 2008 after he had returned home to grieve with his former girlfriend after she lost her father, and 168 in Wellington last year after he had made another dash home to end that same relationship. Then there was 136 against England in the second Test of 2009 at Lord's, when he struck the ball with rare crispness in a comfortably lost cause.

None of those efforts carried the same burden of team performance that Clarke felt when he walked out to join Phillip Hughes on the fourth afternoon at the fall of Ponting's wicket. At the time the visitors led by only 31 with three wickets down, and the match could still slip into Sri Lankan hands without batting of due care and attention. Indeed, Australia had lately made a habit of surrendering at the wrong times in Test series, allowing opponents such as England, India and even Pakistan to capitalise on wandering minds and leaden feet. Clarke knew all this as he started his innings, playing carefully at first to reach stumps. Having done so, he then spoke frankly of the need to stand up with the bat on day five.

Hughes departed soon after resumption, ominously to the first over of spin. These circumstances had becalmed and disheartened Australian teams before, and decisive action was required. Clarke, having played himself back in, provided it in the most commanding fashion imaginable. His first 24 runs occupied 80 balls - his next 76 a mere 59. Time and again Clarke advanced to drive against the spin of Herath, spicing things up by cutting anything pitched fractionally short. At each stroke Sri Lankan heads sank lower, their hopes of a shared series receding markedly with each Clarke dance down the pitch. He went to his century with another lofted drive over mid-on, and delivered a joyous upper cut in the direction of Australia's dressing room. It was a breathtaking way to secure a series.

To lose this match, after Angelo Mathews' unseemly dawdle to a first-innings century, would have been an injustice for a team that had fought so hard and so intelligently across three Tests. Clarke knew this as much as anyone, having driven an emphasis on elbow grease and basics ever since he was appointed to replace Ponting at the conclusion of Australia's World Cup campaign.

His poise as a leader has been striking, exhibiting a superb feel for the game and a knack for initiative. In the field he is both energetic and authoritarian, leading with his brain but also superb hands at slip - see the catches to dismiss Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene in the first and second Tests. Even in the series' final over, Clarke saw an opportunity, giving Nathan Lyon a look at the new ball. Clarke's batting on this tour has been far more certain than at any stage of last summer, but he waited until the final day of the series to produce the sort of spinal contribution that can define a captain.

Having made that contribution, Clarke can now look with a clear head towards the next series and the next objective. South Africa will provide a far tougher proposition than Sri Lanka, albeit in conditions more familiar. The Australian team is not without questions, from the lack of significant runs for Ponting and Shane Watson in this series to the continued fitness concerns for Ryan Harris, by a distance Clarke's most incisive fast man in these Tests. Mitchell Johnson's struggle for wickets cannot be ignored either. Trent Copeland and Lyon have made creditable starts to international cricket, but neither have made places entirely their own. And Phillip Hughes, despite a fine hundred in the second innings here, will next face a Proteas attack determined to learn from its first joust with his idiosyncratic technique in 2009.

Clarke's Australia have much still to do as a team, just as Clarke has much still to achieve as a batsman. But on this day at the SSC, their progress was significant and synergistic. It had been a long time since an Australian captain had so influenced proceedings. For Clarke it was worth the wait.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by RohanMarkJay on (September 23, 2011, 16:39 GMT)

As to my previous comment, Australia can be at times boring to watch. But the Aussie way of playing cricket when they are at their best has always been emphasis fitness, being very professional,efficient and disciplined. In the 1990s when they were no.1 yes they had a lot of talented cricketers, like Warne, Mcgrath, Mark Waugh etc. Who were terrific to watch. But they also placed high importance on those values. I know Aussie fans won't care if their team was boring or exciting as long as they were successful on the cricket field. When Australia plays well in cricket they are like a German army Infantry Unit in WWII professional,efficient and disciplined. Evidence of this tour of Sri Lanka suggest. That Aussie cricket is on the mend again. You have to respect the way the Aussies play their cricket sometimes even if your backing the opposition. Like they have done on this tour of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is not an easy place to come and win a test series.

Posted by   on (September 22, 2011, 5:33 GMT)

Never mind the fact that Clarke silenced his critics in the most elegant & convincing way possible; the *real* highlight of the series, for me, was his captaincy. In his first three Tests as Aussie skipper, he's already displayed more imagination, daring & versatility than Ricky Ponting managed throughout his entire captaincy career. It won't be too long before the Aussies are snapping at the heels of England & South Africa: Hughes seems, at last, to have thrown off his self-imposed shackles, both Marsh & Khawaja ooze Test class & Copeland looks eminently capable of filling the McGrath/Clark role so conspicuous by its absence during the thrashing we gave you in last winter's Ashes. All Australia have to do now is move Marsh up to open with Hughes, shunt Watson down to his rightful position at 6, replace the ineffectual Ponting with Khawaja or Ferguson, bring in Paine & O'Keefe for Haddin & Lyon, & they'll have the makings of a team that can at least give us a run for our money in 2013.

Posted by VivGilchrist on (September 21, 2011, 23:47 GMT)

I agree with hris. There is probably no more versatile batsman in the world than Mike Hussey. I know a players aura grows once they retire but I would go as far to say that he is probably the most versatile batsmen that has ever played the game. .... and to all those Indian fans out there, I am not saying he is better than your god Tendulkar, although I'd rather have Hussey in my team.

Posted by popcorn on (September 21, 2011, 11:51 GMT)

@landl47 I am glad you've made a comment on my comment - that Michael Clarke is the best batsman in the world currently.Records do not reveal the Class of a batsman - see who I am comparing him with - Mark Waugh and Damien Martyn who carressed the ball to the boundary.Elegant, Sublime. Like Ricky Ponting in his prime. Show me ONE batsman who plays pace AND spin as well as Michael Clarke.

Posted by No_Excuses on (September 21, 2011, 8:58 GMT)

I think Jonesy2 said Clarke was the classiest batsman in the world. Classiest doesn't mean best - perhaps "most stylish" would have been a better choice of words by Jonesy2. The best current batsman who has played more than 50 Tests is Jacques Kallis (see his average) but there is a long list who I would prefer to watch at the crease.

Posted by Samdanh on (September 21, 2011, 7:18 GMT)

Aus did exceedingly well to score 480+ on 4th & 5th days wicket that was helping Herath right through the Aus second innings. Overall, Aus dominated this series and having done in conditions quite alien to them, was splendid. However, for them to continue doing well they will have to make some changes. My suggestions are bring in Mitchell Starc in place of Johnson. I see Starc as a left handed Mcgrath. Make Marsh open the innings with Phil Hughes and take Shane Watson to no.6. His ability to counter attack or score quickly as per situation will help in that position. He has been struggling in the opening slot and that is not good for Aus against good teams. Bring in Paine at 7 for Tests and utilise Haddin in ODIs and T20s. Mitchell Starc, Ryan Harris/Siddle, Copeland, Lyon, should form the bowling attack. Johnson should be made to go through at least one season of Sheffield Shield and demonstrate consistency in line, and penetration, before being considered again as back up

Posted by Amu7 on (September 21, 2011, 6:26 GMT)

What people don't realize is that he took a left armer bowling in rough areas. Yes he could have padded away but the runs wouldn't have come and the situation demanded batting runs as well as time.Remember the Ashley Giles incident ,Sach didn't take him on ,on better bangalore wicket because its just too risky.Here where it was jumping off the rough to dismiss the bowler and take your team through is wonderful even a herculean effort.Don't think anyone in English team or for that matter a south african nor Indian has produced a knock of that quality in Sri Lanka to win the series for the country.Still Think Copeland has been the find for the tour because a he stifled runs from an end and made Harris an even potent weapon than he is.He brought stability to the line up which was missing in ashes where too many loose balls were on offer on both ends.

Posted by Aussasinator on (September 21, 2011, 6:22 GMT)

The seond best batmsman in this Australian team after Hussey is Clarke, but my word, this was a true captain's knock. Unlike his predecessor, Clarke delivers under pressure, when the team needs it. Secondly, this time Ponting hasnt even turned in a "Dead Rubber Specialist" knock, like he used to before. Next change in the order is for Clarke to move ahead of Ponting in the order - if they still stick to Ponting, that is :)

Posted by hris on (September 21, 2011, 5:57 GMT)

@landl47 clarke may not be but mike hussey is the best for me. name another player who is as adaptable, versatile as mr cricket. can play equally well against quick and spinners from bouncy WACA to galle dustbowl. his awesome subcontient record is proof. Who else can bat from number one in seaming conditions in Test to number 7 in t20s and be equally effective. He can grind like a dravid, can play with the tail in test like a laxman, can finish an innings in ODIs like Bevan, can whack late in t20s like a raina or dhoni. Not trying to boast but surely there have been hardly one or 2 players like him in the last 20 years. This all is not some what Ifs. he has actually done all this. Only problem is he was unlucky not to picked for oz a long time ago bcuz of the dominant team oz had. even then i think he is better than a bevan, hayden, langer, martyn, clarke, waugh and even Ponting.

Posted by Biggus on (September 21, 2011, 5:36 GMT)

@OutCast@Sageleaf@mrgupta:-This article is about Michael Clarke. Kindly take your Sri Lanka Vs India feud elsewhere.

Posted by landl47 on (September 21, 2011, 4:06 GMT)

That's interesting- popcorn and jonesy2 think Clarke is the best batsman in the world. Let's ignore for the moment all the batsmen from other countries who are better than Clarke (according to the ICC rankings, there are 24 of them at the moment). Clarke isn't even the best Australian, unless they think that he's better than Mike Hussey. Let's see, Hussey was Man of the Match in all 3 tests and Man of the Series, with 2 hundreds and 2 nineties. He was top Australian scorer in the Ashes series and is currently ranked 8th by the ICC, against Clarke's 26th. Sounds pretty convincing to me- what do you think, guys? I like Clarke, but best in the world? Get real.

Posted by Marcio on (September 21, 2011, 3:56 GMT)

I think Clarke led the team really intelligently this series. Beating SL in SL is no mean feat, even if they are down two world class bowlers. They still have 3-4 great batsmen in their team. The truth is that AUS outplayed SL most of the series, and if anything 1-0 flattered SL. SL did come back at various stages, but never consistently enough to threaten to win a game. Overall our bowling and fielding was very disciplined, and you couldn't have asked for much more. I was a bit unhappy that they didn't go for a win when they were 270 in front yesterday, but I guess they decided that they just didn't have enough gas left in the tank to go out and try to blast out SL on a docile pitch in 30 overs. It was a very grueling test match played in very hot weather.

Posted by mrgupta on (September 21, 2011, 3:43 GMT)

@Sageleaf: Well said, by the way when your team showed what they are made up of they already had lost the series, so, it really doesn't matter. Indian team in its full strength showed SL their place in Cricket when they last toured and also in the World Cup Final. Your team is already loosing, let's see how do you perform when you loose your main Bowlers/Batsmen to injury in the middle of a test match. India lost a series first time in 3 years (home or Away), do you even remember when was the last time SL won a test outside SL or infact when was the last time they Won a test? How many years?

Posted by Dashgar on (September 21, 2011, 2:41 GMT)

He still has plenty to prove as a batsman and as a captain. One century is not enough, he needs to keep this form going into South Africa. If he bats well there and keeps up the good decision making in the field then hopefully the Aussies can push for 2 series wins in a row.

Posted by Philvdk on (September 21, 2011, 2:39 GMT)

All those so called experts who have been calling for Hussey's head for the last year must feel like (and look like) a right mob of dills just now. Over 1000 runs in the last two series with 4 x 100s and 3 x 90s. He's still got a couple of years left in him (as has Ponting). Good to see Clarke start his captaincy phase in a positive manner. That century will do him the world of good and hopefully get him back to where he was a couple of years ago. Sth Africa tests has to be Johnson's last chance. If he still doesn't perform then he has to go back to Sheffield Shield for a full season and show us if he can still do it. He has become a liability to the team for a while now and they don't need someone like that at this stage. Aussies now on the way back. Will slip past SA and India in the rankings in the upcoming series and then get ready to knock the Poms off inthe next Ashes and take back no.1 spot.

Posted by legb4 on (September 21, 2011, 2:36 GMT)

Great knock by Clarke regardless of what the ill informed will say perhaps if Dilshan played a similar innings in the first test that result may have been different. We are still a long way off the top 2 teams but at least we are heading in the right direction. Just good to see us get a series win and get a bit of confidence.

Posted by HatsforBats on (September 21, 2011, 2:22 GMT)

@thebarmyarmy: last time we played in SA we won the series, against that bowling attack. That's better than what England have done.

Posted by   on (September 21, 2011, 2:09 GMT)

Brilliant performance from Pup. Hope he continues this in the upcoming tours..

Posted by Nerk on (September 21, 2011, 2:06 GMT)

I would much rather Clarke have made his century earlier in the series. Good on him, but he has to go on now and make many more because he is no longer a boy, he is the captain of the Australian test team and needs to perform his potential.

Posted by Meety on (September 21, 2011, 2:06 GMT)

@ thebarmyarmy - good for you. I predict at least 1nil or better to Oz!

Posted by RandyOZ on (September 21, 2011, 2:01 GMT)

2 less wickets than england, when we played on roads and they played on greentops. You do the math as to how far we are behind them.

Posted by RandyOZ on (September 21, 2011, 1:51 GMT)

Clarke's inability to knuckle down and kick on, rather than getting out the ball before tea, is his biggest weakness. Just cos you got a century on a road after Hughes relieved significant pressure doesn't mean you are back in form, Pup.

Posted by sawifan on (September 21, 2011, 1:00 GMT)

@TEST_CRICKET_ONLY Hiding down the order?!? You should rename yourself, KNOWS_NOTHING_ABOUT_TEST_CRICKET!!!! What a joke haha... So players such as Steve Waugh, Allan Border, MS Dhoni and many others 'hid/ hide'. No, its their preferred position, so they bat there. You appear to be someone who prefer criticism of everything over congratulating a fine effort. I still think AUS will struggle in SAF, but we will easily account for NZ and IND at home next summer.

Posted by thebarmyarmy on (September 21, 2011, 0:59 GMT)

Enjoy the moment Australia because South Africa have a far superior bowling attack than Sri Lanka and indeed yourselves. I predict at least 1-0 to South Africa.

Posted by RohanMarkJay on (September 21, 2011, 0:27 GMT)

As a cricket fan who has big soft spot for Sri Lankan Cricket and the cricket team. Losing to Australia on their home turf is quite concerning in the post Murali era. Here's hoping that the Sri Lankan management will put right the Sri Lankan team and its wonderful brand of cricket that they play in the future. Australia may be efficient and improving but they are boring to watch I would rather see Sri Lanka do well and watch them play cricket rather than Australia, this is just my personal opinion.

Posted by straight_drive4 on (September 21, 2011, 0:23 GMT)

great innings pup - this is a great thing for australia. the best thing out of this (apart from the obvious savihg of the test match) is that australia get to keep their attacking captain. the aggressiveness that clarke is showing as captain will do A LOT more for the teams success then his batting can, thats why its important for him to hold his own batting and we desperately need him as captain.

Posted by bobagorof on (September 20, 2011, 23:24 GMT)

@TEST_CRICKET_ONLY: I suppose Steve Waugh was also a poor captain. Oh, and Alan Border. And heaven knows about Richie Benaud, who never made it into the top 6.

Posted by TEST_CRICKET_ONLY on (September 20, 2011, 23:04 GMT)

"A captain's knock" ??? Don't make me laugh. Hiding down the order at #5, on a featherbed pitch against one of the weakest bowling attacks in world cricket. Clarke is a poor excuse for a captain.

Posted by Sageleaf on (September 20, 2011, 22:14 GMT)

OutCast, India has a chance to rebound? Sri Lanka are all but nothing outside SL? Are you kidding me? At least Sri Lankan did not lose like India. Even the last test match we showed what we are made up and in the limited over series too. It was a total white wash for India. Sure India has a chance to rebound only in India too. Sure we will be tested in South Africa soon and may be with Pakistan in UAE. It will be very interesting to see how India going to perform against England in the upcoming one day series in India.

Posted by Behind_the_bowlers_arm on (September 20, 2011, 21:35 GMT)

Said when Clarke took over that more responsibility for him and less for Ponting would help both players. That said Clarke really has been a revelation as captain with a positive attitude. These tests between now and early 2012 should be used to move things on apace. From the team that played in this Test I see a limited future for Johnson, Siddle , Haddin & Ponting. Harris, Paine & Khawaja are 3 obvious replacements with Bollinger competing with the likes of Pattinson & the other young fast bowlers coming through. Hopefully Callum Ferguson will be in the mix also.

Posted by OutCast on (September 20, 2011, 18:05 GMT)

Eng handed India a historic whitewash... Aus handed SL a blank paper... Zim handed Bang a trick-o-treater... what a misery! Anyhow, India has the chance to rebounce while SL are all but nothing outside of SL...

Posted by maddy20 on (September 20, 2011, 17:58 GMT)

Well played Aussies. For what the Sri Lankan "experts" predicted before this series began its a fitting reply. here's hoping posters such as herath-Uk have learnt their lesson. Beating an Aussie team is always a challenge at home or away. Indians are in for serious fight at the end of the year if BCCI does not get its act together!

Posted by 5wombats on (September 20, 2011, 17:56 GMT)

Well - Clarke made some runs. About time. I rate Clarke and sincerely wish him well - but one of Clarke's (many) problems is that he has to come in earlier in the Innings than he would like; If only the guy batting at 4 could just stay at the crease just a bit longer.... yeah, go figure.

Posted by Valavan on (September 20, 2011, 16:20 GMT)

Dear SL and AUS fans, dont mind Chris Sun because he just wanna stir things up by speaking non related things in this forum. Congrats to both SL and Australia playing good cricket irrespective of giving excuses.

Posted by   on (September 20, 2011, 16:12 GMT)

I don't think Mathews cost a win but saved a loss, if he had of played more aggressive and gotten out then aussies would have led by 300+ with time to defend it.

Posted by popcorn on (September 20, 2011, 16:10 GMT)

At which position is Michael Clarke at his sublime best? No.5, of course! Where he has scored his 15 centuries! So stay there, Skipper.

Posted by   on (September 20, 2011, 16:10 GMT)

@ Chris SAlover, We would have won the 2nd test if it wasn;t for bad weather and if SL hadn't of batted so slowly we would have defended 320 in the 3rd test as well clown.

Posted by   on (September 20, 2011, 16:08 GMT)

We didn't get out of trouble really, if we had another day we would have most probably won it, on that pitch maybe it would have deteriorated on the 7th or 8th day? Useless sub continent pitches... Bad light is a blight in SL also.

Posted by NALINWIJ on (September 20, 2011, 15:39 GMT)

Australia toughed it out in the first hour of play when Clarke gave 3 tough chances and Sri Lanka could not seize the day and the match that was precarious became easy as Clarke grew in confidence. This series was a perfect recovery for the Aussies and a disappointing series for SL but with a few silver linings in that I feel Mathews has matured as a test player, Eranga and Lakmal show promise and SL does have quality spinners in the form of Herath and Mendis and possibly Randiv and I cannot see how they could bat any worse than in the first one and a half tests.

Posted by   on (September 20, 2011, 15:34 GMT)

Congrats to the Aussies for a great win.

Posted by   on (September 20, 2011, 15:19 GMT)

Well done Michael ... I enjoyed

Posted by Sageleaf on (September 20, 2011, 15:05 GMT)

Sri Lankans played negative cricket and it cost them the 3rd test. Angelo Mathews just destroy the match by his century knock and played so negatively. Mathews is a classy player and could have played better. Aussies on the other hand showed Sri Lankans how the game should be played. Michael Hussey and Skipper Clarke played magnificently. So is Hughes in the second innings. Just listen to what Tony Greig and Tom Moody said during the 4th morning when Mathews was struggling to score his century. I hope watching the tapes Sri Lankans will learn something because we will play South Africa towards end of the year. We have drop down to no 5 in test rankings and might go further down after the South African test series. Too many excuses and unfit players with injury in recent times and our team decision making is horrible, especially when we have to review. My opinion is a foreign coach will turn our team a round and the sooner we have one is better for the future of Sri Lankan cricket.

Posted by Sageleaf on (September 20, 2011, 15:03 GMT)

Well, not sure whether Aussies played to their potential cause Sri Lankans did not have quality bowlers. Things would have been different If Malinga was on our side and I doubt Aussies would have had easy matches. Saying that Sri Lankans were lucky that Aussies did not have Lee or Bollinger in their side cause the outcome of the test matches would have been different. Our top 2 batsmen could not post a century and the way Sanga and Mahela got out was pathetic in the 3rd test. It was a batting pitch and they simply couldn't control the new ball, both got out caught behind. I think if Sri Lankans are to make a statement this tour would have been ideal. I consider Aussies are the greatest team and will not give anything free. You just got to earn playing very good cricket. Unfortunately Sri Lankans did not. Dilshan's attitude has to change and I think Sanga should captain the side. Leadership matters and not someone with cocky attitude which was visible right throughout the test series.

Posted by popcorn on (September 20, 2011, 14:52 GMT)

This was Michael Clarke at his brilliant best - under Team pressure,Captaincy pressure and Individual pressure.A sublime innings.Watching him closely, play both spin and pace, I can confidently say he is the best batsmnan in the world currently.As good as Ricky Ponting in his prime.Exquisite timing,sweetly struck,both offside and onside, down the ground, over the bowler's head,dancing down the wicket to spin - a fascinating treat to watch.In the same league as Mark Waugh and Damien Martyn.

Posted by Quazar on (September 20, 2011, 14:36 GMT)

SL look non-threatening without Murali and Malinga. And they made a very bad call in leaving aside Mendis in the 1st Test... Herath and Mendis are their best spinners, especially against sides that haven't played them much. And they had seen how difficult the Aussies found Mendis in the shorter format. They realized their mistake by the 3rd test, but he was injured by then. Can't believe SL played a home Test with only 1 genuine spinner! They hurt themselves in this Test series even before getting on the park.

Posted by Quazar on (September 20, 2011, 14:36 GMT)

SL look non-threatening without Murali and Malinga. And they made a very bad call in leaving aside Mendis in the 1st Test... Herath and Mendis are their best spinners, especially against sides that haven't played them much. And they had seen how difficult the Aussies found Mendis in the shorter format. They realized their mistake by the 3rd test, but he was injured by then. Can't believe SL played a home Test with only 1 genuine spinner! They hurt themselves in this Test series even before getting on the park.

Posted by landl47 on (September 20, 2011, 14:31 GMT)

Clarke was, as he usually is, a pleasure to watch. He uses his feet and looks for opportunites to attack. On this occasion he stayed long enough to make his innings not only entertaining but crucial to the Australian cause. His captaincy was also good throughout the series, a stark contrast to Ponting's dithering and unimaginative style. A nice piece of work for his first series as skipper.

Posted by Quazar on (September 20, 2011, 14:30 GMT)

Very creditable series win by the Aussies. Hussey was tremendous, Clarke was very good (as captain, batsman and catcher) and newcomers, especially Marsh and Copeland, look promising. In fact, Marsh was anointed as potentially the next great Australian bat by many of us in India who saw him in the 2008 IPL... let's see how well he converts his potential. Watson was excellent with the ball, and remains the best Aussie player considering all formats. But Ponting and Johnson really need to deliver in their next 2 series (SA and India)... they have been living on past performances for a while. Hope to see a good series when India head down under in December!

Posted by Quazar on (September 20, 2011, 14:30 GMT)

Very creditable series win by the Aussies. Hussey was tremendous, Clarke was very good (as captain, batsman and catcher) and newcomers, especially Marsh and Copeland, look promising. In fact, Marsh was anointed as potentially the next great Australian bat by many of us in India who saw him in the 2008 IPL... let's see how well he converts his potential. Watson was excellent with the ball, and remains the best Aussie player considering all formats. But Ponting and Johnson really need to deliver in their next 2 series (SA and India)... they have been living on past performances for a while. Hope to see a good series when India head down under in December!

Posted by jonesy2 on (September 20, 2011, 14:18 GMT)

the way clarke batted he would have scored a century against warne, kumble, mcgrath and akram, brilliant from the classiest batsman in the world.

Posted by zico123 on (September 20, 2011, 13:57 GMT)

there is no place for Mitchel Johnson anymore who has finished the series with bowling strike rate over 100 balls for each wicket, awful, he should have been dropped 1 yr back

Posted by zico123 on (September 20, 2011, 13:55 GMT)

finally Australia moving in right direction, there is no place for Ponting any more who has passed his prime 2 yrs back, he has to hang hi boots otehrwise selectors have to take that harsh call, there are younger players like Huges, Kwaja, Shaun March to take Australia forward

Posted by ravi_hari on (September 20, 2011, 13:53 GMT)

It is always very satisfying for any player to bat the team out of trouble. If he is the captain the delight doubles. Clarke has done what Ponting could not do in India and England. He played like Steve Waugh. Being a left arm spinner himself, Clarke should know better than any Aussie how to play Herath. He did that in the first test and here. However, a captain should be consistant and Clarke has to learn to do so. This knock should inspire the team and should augur well for the tough tour to South Africa. However, Clarke should remember that his bowling looks very weak without Harris. I think he should look for a replacement for Jhonson - may be Bollinger. Copeland also needs direction and Lyon needs a lot of variety to pick wickets on pace friendly wickets. He needs to learn to use the bouce in South Africa like Anil Kumble. He could be a key bowler in that series if he uses the conditions well. Watson, Haddin and Ponting have to contribute. Marsh is the find of the tour. Hari Ravi

Posted by   on (September 20, 2011, 13:37 GMT)

Finally australian cricket is moving in the right direction . Clarke is the best man to lead australia.ricky ponting may not have posted big scores in this series but he is looking in the best shape after 06/07 ashes . a big score is just around the corner . Look out south africa

Posted by k.mithilesh on (September 20, 2011, 12:14 GMT)

From Pup to Bulldog. Transformation of an individual and transfromation of a team too. Go Aussie Go.

Posted by Chris_P on (September 20, 2011, 12:14 GMT)

Good stuff by Clarke against a willing opposition. To win here, and against Sri Lanka at home is something very few countries have had the privilege to do. All is not lost, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Good work by the Lankans as well, they toughed it out well after their 1st Innings of the 2nd Test.

Posted by Biggus on (September 20, 2011, 12:11 GMT)

I'm happy for Clarke and for the team. I really didn't think we'd win this series. Now I have to wait almost a month for the tour of South Africa. Ah, the life of a cricket tragic. What crippled human beings we are.

Posted by dinosaurus on (September 20, 2011, 12:10 GMT)

It wasn't a bore draw. Australia batted out the day, but in the best batting innings of the series!! Yes. a disappointment for the local fans and for the enemies of Australia, but it was a strong day of Test batting.

Posted by   on (September 20, 2011, 12:05 GMT)

Australia won only because of a doctored pitch in the first test.

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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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