Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne December 25, 2013

Clarke insists on living in the moment

Michael Clarke has insisted he is living in the moment as Australia's Ashes-winning captain rather than looking beyond the Boxing Day Test, because he knows how quickly perceptions can change as the result of success or failure. Clarke has endured an up-and-down 2013 that featured an awful tour of India, both on field and off, before a tumultuous Ashes tour of England on which the coach Mickey Arthur was sacked and the team lost 3-0.

However, the Australians have turned their year around by regaining the Ashes within three Tests at home, ensuring Clarke's legacy as an Ashes-winning captain. Australia's challenges next year will include visiting South Africa to play the No.1 Test team in the world, before playing away against Pakistan, hosting India and then playing a World Cup at home.

"I aim to win this Test match, probably because I've seen both sides of this game," Clarke said. "I know how quickly you can be praised by the media and I also know how quickly you can be criticised. I'm not silly enough at 32 years of age to look past tomorrow to be honest because I know a couple of ducks and my job's on the line or a couple of losses and I'm under the same pressure.

"That has been my advice to a lot of players who come onto the international scene. It's very easy to say don't look too far ahead. But it's so crucial in this world, and that's where we sit as a team now. Two months ago, we were the worst Australian cricket team to ever tour India. Two months on, I think Ricky Ponting might have said, in an article the other day, it could be the greatest ever Ashes win by an Australian cricket team. So two months, things can change. I'll make sure I stay focused on this Test match."

Clarke has previously said that he believed he might be dropped as captain if Australia failed to regain the Ashes in Australia, but instead his position is as secure as it ever has been. Clarke's ongoing back injury could determine how long he continues to play but he said he was enough of a realist to know that continued success or failure of the Test team would determine his own captaincy future.

"Until the selectors decide to drop me I guess, or I decide to retire," he said of his captaincy tenure. "One or the other. Hopefully, retirement comes before getting dropped. That's the sport we play. That's the world we live in now. If you don't perform well as an individual player, you'll be dropped.

"If the team doesn't perform well then generally in our sport the captain's accountable and he'll probably be dropped. All I can do is continue to give my best. If somebody comes along who's better than me or my best is no longer good enough then I'll no longer be needed here."

The Australians are likely to enter the Test with the same XI from the WACA, which would be the first time in nine years that they would have played the same side for four consecutive Tests. James Faulkner remains with the squad despite fracturing his thumb in the WACA nets in the lead-up to the Perth Test, while Doug Bollinger and Nathan Coulter-Nile are also with the group as standby bowlers.

"At this stage we've got the same 12 for this Test match and we'll announce the 11 at the toss," Clarke said. "But at this stage everyone seems fully fit. I haven't looked at the wicket yet … I think it's more about assessing the conditions tomorrow morning before we announce our 11."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • David on December 25, 2013, 12:09 GMT

    Australia has so much depth in their fast bowling, plus Lyon will just get better, Hughes and others are adding depth to the batting. Aussies could be on a rise to the top for a lengthy period again. :-)

  • Prasanna on December 25, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    I really liked the way Clarke set up the victories in Adelaide and Perth. Yes it requires that the batsmen scored quickly but i think it is also driven from the top. Mindful of the poor weather, personal records took a back-seat in Adelaide. Compare this with the slow scoring by the indians on day 4 in Jo'burg chasing personal milestones.

  • Android on December 25, 2013, 6:40 GMT

    Clarke must be one of the most well spoken captains in the history of cricket. His words are spot on, I remember seeing him in the post match ceremony and he really did speak of the situation very well and now this interview. Perhaps its due to the ups and downs he has had in his career so far, but his statements are unique and very much spot on.

  • Robert on December 25, 2013, 6:08 GMT

    Clark is still being haunted by all the hate went his way recently. In today's world, "what have you done for me lately" attitude is so true. He might sound cynical but he is right and showing a lot of maturity here. Not getting carried away by all the media hoopla.

  • GV on December 25, 2013, 6:01 GMT

    Clarke is an all-time great in the making. He has effortlessly slipped into the role of captaincy, taken his batting to a completely different level from everyone else on the planet, steered the Australian team through extremely choppy waters, is making do with very thin resources. He is not only the tactically sharpest captain today, but also probably over the last 20-30 years, going back to the days of Ian Chappell, Steven Fleming, Martin Crowe, one of the finest captains. But unlike the others, he has lesser batting riches to draw from, a great tradition to uphold, and he has not complained once, or made excuses.

  • rob on December 25, 2013, 4:51 GMT

    I like what Clarke had to say. Very realistic.

    I don't care what anyone says, he's one of the best Test captains I've seen from a tactical point of view. He considers everything. Runs, wickets, time and conditions are all added to the pot before he makes a decision. Cook doesn't seem to worry about time at all, and that's why he'll always be a second rate captain unless he changes his ways in that regard.

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