Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 5th day January 7, 2011

Clarke wants Australia to learn from England


After seeing their world-beating game-plan improved on by England, Australia are now looking to their Ashes dominators to provide a way out this mess. For more than a decade Australia were the leaders in planning and innovation, but over the past couple of years they have gone into freefall.

England's 3-1 Ashes victory, their first Down Under since 1986-87, has provided Australia with another fierce reality check after a batch of them in 2010. "I think 100% we have to learn from what England did this series," Clarke said. "Their performance, not only with bat and ball, but in the field, was outstanding for a five-Test series. There's a great starting point to be able to turn up every day for five Tests, to perform as well as they did."

Clarke was in the unfortunate position of being in charge when the trophy was handed over, having replaced the injured Ricky Ponting for the final Test. He may have the job full-time if the selectors decide Ponting's time is up before the next tour of Sri Lanka in August, although Clarke loyally pledged his support to the official leader.

If Clarke takes over at least he knows what his side needs to do to succeed against the best teams. "It takes a lot of discipline, a lot of planning before the series," he said. "The [England] bowlers have executed their plans outstandingly against our batters and their batters have cashed in when we haven't bowled in the right areas. We do need to look at how England have played in this series and take a lot of notes from that."

The overall campaign was a poor one for Clarke, who performed so strongly in the 2006-07 and 2009 Ashes campaigns. Clarke, who managed only 193 runs at 21.44, said it felt like the lowest point of his career.

"Unfortunately I've lost a few Ashes series now and they're all pretty bad," he said. "But being the vice-captain of the Australian team, and having such a disappointing series with the bat, it probably is [the worst]."

Clarke, 29, has retired from Twenty20s to focus on improving his impact in the longer forms of the game, but he was asked whether he should hold his five-day spot for the Sri Lanka trip. "I would like to, I really hope so," he said. "Throughout this series I've played well in a couple of innings, but I couldn't go out and make a big score."

If he had the series over again he would have practised more against tall, fast bowlers before the first Test in Brisbane. He spent the early stages of the series being targeted by short-pitched deliveries when he was overcoming a back injury, and was unable to find any fluency.

Australia's lead-up included one-day games against Sri Lanka and a couple of domestic fixtures, while England were fine-tuning from the moment their home summer ended. They were better in all disciplines except wicketkeeping, where Brad Haddin and Matt Prior were evenly matched.

James Sutherland, Cricket Australia's chief executive, dismissed any criticism of the schedule having an influence on the result. "To point the finger at the preparation and suggest that was responsible for us losing the series 3-1 is rubbish," he said. "We actually played more Test cricket than England did in the two or three months leading into the Ashes series."

Clarke was hurt by the standard of the side's fielding and said the bowlers needed more patience and discipline. "That's what England have done throughout this series," he said, before offering his attack some sympathy.

"I feel a bit for the bowlers, because I know they've copped a lot of criticism throughout this series, but I think we as batters have to take a lot of responsibility as well," he said. "If you can put 400 runs on the board, as England have shown, your bowlers generally bowl a lot better than what we have. Putting 100, 200, 250 on the board and expecting the bowlers to get them out for that sort of target, I think we're asking a hell of a lot."

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • viju on January 10, 2011, 12:55 GMT

    Ponting's did in performance started with him being too nagative and whiny as was witnessed during the series against Indians in 2008. With all the backlash he has to swing the other way by being too nice and with it went the oz fighting spirit. The typical oz grit can be witnessed in Katich, Hussey, Haddin & Ponting - all the other seem to be ad-boys - want to look good on cam. Going for extravagant shots when playing solidly is the need, getting run-out trying to take quick singles are just two examples. The team needs openers, not just a makeshift pair- Katich & Watson would have done very well in the middle order, not at the top. Hughes head has been messed with already, so 2 new openers are required. Steven Smith was a joke with the way he played. Hauritz needs to be an integral part of the team and on the top of the agenda is minimising T20 and giving the Shield games more prominence and that will see the end of atrocious shot making. Forget about building a team, just rebuild.

  • viju on January 10, 2011, 12:40 GMT

    Firstly, starting from Cricket Australia, selectors, coach, Ponting down to Clarke, everyone should stop pretending that all is ok except that they under performed. They need to be honest & admit that it was flawed selection to start with. Doherty had no business to be in the team & Beer too. Hauritz was cast aside for some inexplicable reason. And their batsmen need to know what test cricket is all about. Only Ponting was man enough to admit he failed. Clarke's attitude stinks by differing with the coach in saying that he will play to his natural ability. What has he done with his so called natural ability thus far? None of the batsmen were interested in seeing thru a session, play patient innings & build partnerships. The fielding wasn't good and the bowling was sub-par most times. Time for Australian cricket to look at the probs squarely in the face & let Greg Chappell rebuild the team. If only Ponting listened to him and dropped down the order....

  • John on January 9, 2011, 14:26 GMT

    The writing was on the wall for Australia when they came into the Ashes series after a run of three test defeats and three losses in ODI series. Their captain, selectors and fans didn't want to believe it, but that was a true picture of how the Aussies were playing. Before the series I thought England's weakness was the lack of a 5th test class bowler, but Australia, apart from the Hussey/Haddin partnership in the first test, never made England spend long enough in the field for it to become a concern. England had 7 partnerships of 150 or more, including 2 for the first wicket and 2 for the second, whereas Aus had only that one. Aus need to get Ponting out, a new captain appointed, and start rebuilding. It's going to be a while before Aus get back to being a top test side- the cupboard looks pretty bare for the immediate future. Still, they have to start somewhere and now's the time.

  • Terry on January 8, 2011, 5:44 GMT

    "Clarke wants Australia to learn from England" Best thing you can do Clarke is to resign from test cricket and prove yourself back in Shield cricket (if you can get selected for NSW!). England know when to through out the dead weight. Aust MUST tour Bangladesh and take along a side to test their abilities or we are dead in the water as a cricketing country. Marsh, Hughes, Khawaja, White (capt), Cosgrove, Smith, Pain, Swan, Cameron, Butterworth, Faulkner and Beer (with one bowler sitting out). This will test our backup team. After the 2 test series against Bang, bring in M Hussey (drop 1 bat), S Watson (drop White/Smith), Haddin (drop Pain, unless Pain gets 2 double hundreds), Johnson + Siddle + Harris (drop pace attack, unless one gets 15+ wickets in 2 tests) and Hauritz (unless Beer gets 10 wickets in 2 tests). This would mean that ALL of our fringe players get 2 tests to convince the selectors that they should be in the team. Australia should do this yearly against Ban/Zim/Ire/Afg.

  • JIGNESH on January 8, 2011, 1:50 GMT

    Michael Beer must be the nephew or relative of any one of the selectors of Australian Board. I mean he carries THE BOWLING AVERAGE more than 43 runs per wicket in his first class debut series. I am not saying they shouldn't select the player who just started the first class career. They should select if he performed a lot better than 43 runs per wicket in his first class debut series. Same as Hilfy is selected in AUS Natioanl team because of his stupid cousin brother-Punter. Hilfy and Beer is not even qualify for any English county to play and they have been selecting for the Australian National team. WOOOOOOOOOOOW!!! You guys not gonna learn until you don't kick out Ponting, Clarke, Beer, Hilfy, Siddle, Smiths, and Hughes. They all are struggling. Some of them are big heads in Australia, but in order to get success again, they have to take strong steps and kick them out. Because if Punter would start making runs his cousin Hilfy would appear in the team again for sure.

  • Steve on January 7, 2011, 20:13 GMT

    Things aren't so bad for Australia as many of their fair weathered fans like Mervo suggest. I believe the defeat was a combination of a very good England side and an out of form Aussie one. Much has been made of the couple of English players with overseas connections but even the Pakistani born Khawaja didn't help the Australian slump. Discarding someone like Ricky Ponting would be crazy! He knows he's had a poor run and I'm sure he'll come out of it stronger? I agree though that maybe Clark doesn't have ' captaincy' stamped all over him and another prospect should be groomed. World cricket owes much to Australia and they raised the standard of the game. Currently they're losing but this will change..... however the old dominance may never return as everyone else has got better! That's a good thing! As a happy Englishman I can say " thank you " to the Australian set up. Chin up lads - there are worse things than losing and it will change!

  • ABRAR on January 7, 2011, 18:34 GMT

    Michael Clarke deserves CA's support. It can't have helped to be handed the captaincy unexpectedly at a crtical point in the series.

    He's a talented batsman, and the knee-jerk reaction from commentators an the media calling from his removal, doesn't make sense.

    "Form is temporary, but class is permanent"

  • Robert on January 7, 2011, 17:48 GMT

    Mervo - you've already started to recruit internationally - Khwaja was born in Pakistan - to Pakistani parents.

    Remember that the South Africans that play for England have either one English parent or grandparent and have been raised and played all or most of their cricket in England.

    Also the coach of England is from Zimbabwe - not South Africa.

    Doesn't it tell you something when David Saker - a true blue Aussie - wants to continue to stay and coach England's bowlers and not come back to Australia?

  • pavan on January 7, 2011, 17:34 GMT

    "Hussey falls-Australia fails".No other batsman is performing for australia except hussey.haddin is average. ponting`s batting is bad enough and captaincy is worst.better to remove katich and ponting immediately from the team

  • Rob on January 7, 2011, 17:17 GMT

    England showed more mental strength and application throughout taking key wickets at pivotal times and Perth aside not losing them at vital times. Apart from Collingwood nobody was a passenger everyone had a role and fulfilled it. Look at the lack of team ethic of Watson gets himself in every time then gets out when a big score is needed, and usually runs a team mate out first. Siddle was a positive as was Hussey (near sell by date), the new no.3 looks ok (name difficult to spell) as does the cherubic faced Smith, Australia just need to accept they aren't immortal anymore the top 4-5 teams are pretty even (that includeds Oz) and makes for better more even competition. Re. Mervo Englands SA players all have an English parent apart from Strauss who moved to England age 6, didn't hear anyone complaining about Symonds playing for Aus (Birmingham born)

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