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September 8, 2013
Given the end-of-term atmosphere that permeates any limited overs series to follow an Ashes contest, it would be quite the embellishment to say Michael Clarke basked in Australia's 88-run victory over England at Old Trafford. But there was certainly some relief evident in Clarke, for this was the first significant international win he had been part of since early February, and the first he has taken part in against England on a tour that began four months and three Prime Ministers ago.
As results go, the Manchester margin was handsome, hurried along by a grand partnership between Clarke and his deputy George Bailey that pushed the tourists to 315 for 7, then secured by an even bowling display in which Mitchell Johnson was particularly menacing and everyone contributed at least one wicket. In a year largely barren of Australian success away from home, the win in Manchester will help establish the winning habit Clarke spoke of in the aftermath.
"Winning's always pleasing and that's one thing I've emphasised to the Test boys but also the one-day guys," Clarke said. "Sometimes it might not look pretty or feel great, but if you get over the line and get that winning feeling it's a nice side of the fence to be on.
"In the Test matches we showed in patches some really good cricket. Our performance today was a good start, but we won't take anything for granted and I won't look too far ahead, but I think at the end of the day it's nice to have won a game against England on this tour.
"It was nice to contribute, I'd like to play every Test and one-dayer at Manchester, I seem to score runs here. It's about trying to help the team win and fortunately today I played my part. But everybody contributed today. There's still three important games to go but it's a nice feeling to be sitting here having won the first one of this series."
Surmising what his men had to do for the rest of the series, Clarke said the posting of a high total that increased the element of risk for England's batsmen was significant, as was the plucking of regular wickets to ensure that no partnerships could be established. "England have got a lot of destructive players," he said. "So I think for us taking wickets was crucial throughout our bowling innings, and batting as well as we could to set a target to make England take risks is something we're going to have to continue to do throughout this series.
"I wasn't surprised by their team or that they bowled first, I think they've been doing that a lot in the shorter form of the game for a while now. We've got to make sure we keep working to get better because England will get better than today."
Eoin Morgan, England's stand-in captain, certainly hopes so, and conceded his bowlers had allowed Australia around 40 runs too many on a dry, slowish Old Trafford strip. "It was probably more of a 275 type of pitch," Morgan said. "It was hard when you got in but when you developed a partnership you found yourself without any effort going at five or six an over. Today we lost wickets through the whole innings. They played particularly well and put our bowlers under a lot of pressure."
James Tredwell was notably targeted by Australia's batsmen, his usually efficient and tidy 10-over spell ended two overs short of that quota by Morgan, having already conceded 60. "It did make it difficult yeah," Morgan said. "He's a fantastic bowler and been a great performer, in the Champions Trophy he was one of the best bowlers in the tournament. Because they kept coming there was a feeling that he would create an opportunity to take a wicket, so it worked both ways. We ended up getting Finch because they played so hard, and I don't have to tell you how good Michael Clarke is at playing spin."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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