West Indies v Australia, 3rd Test, Roseau, 5th day April 27, 2012

A year in the life

The upward curve of the Australian team over the period of Michael Clarke's captaincy has been by no means an accidental occurrence
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Played 14, won nine, lost two, drawn three. By these bare numbers Michael Clarke has established himself as a successful Test captain of Australia, ending a long sequence of cricket a little more than a year after he took the job from Ricky Ponting. It was a tired touring team that allowed West Indies to swing their way to within 75 runs of a distant target on the final morning, but the Australians' unstinting earlier efforts ensured that the Caribbean tour and the elongated "summer" of eight months' duration ended on a note of victory.

In the finish it was the captain himself who did much of the heavy lifting, claiming the second five-wicket haul of his Test career with left-arm spin of the kind that Allan Border once employed with similar success against West Indies. Clarke's other major tally was a freakish 6 for 9 on a Mumbai pitch that existed in name only, and here he had to work for his wickets on a surface that offered generous turn but not the spiteful bounce or grubbers that fill batsmen with fourth-innings fear. It was fitting that Clarke played such a role in bringing the team home to a 2-0 series success, for the upward curve of the Australian team over the period of his captaincy has been by no means an accidental occurrence.

As a batsman, a tactician and occasionally a bowler, Clarke is always keeping the game moving, always looking for opportunities for runs or wickets, always pushing his team towards greater efforts. Clarke's players have taken on his appetite for meticulous preparation and hard training, preserving their bodies as he must do in order to stay ahead of a troublesome back that has humbugged him numerous times over his career. They are also a more ebullient and enthusiastic group under his leadership, as much because they know their leader is a shrewd one as because he is a cheerful one. Winning helps too.

Since he walked out to toss the coin with Sri Lanka's then captain Tillakaratne Dilshan in September last year, Clarke has taken the team through plenty of peaks and also a few notable troughs. It was those that he pointed to as critical to the building of the team's character, particularly the way the team found a way to regather itself after the trauma of being razed for 47 by South Africa in Cape Town, squaring the series in Johannesburg within a week. There was also a galling defeat to New Zealand in Hobart as the team settled under a new captain, coach and selection panel.

"Cape Town showed us how quickly things can change for the worse and then to be able to pull off a win in Jo'burg - and we're talking about a very strong Test cricket team in their own backyard - so to be able to level that series was a great learning curve for us," Clarke said. "And we probably saw a little of that again against New Zealand. There are highs and lows in this game and you're going to experience both, whether you like it or not individually as a player. And that gave us the opportunity as a team to see that it doesn't matter what opposition you play against, if you're not at your best, you're going to get beaten. And we continue to learn, especially, from those two games, from Cape Town and Hobart.

"I've been very lucky to have some other great leaders around me, wonderful support staff who have played a part in me having success. And the captain is only as good as his stock. The players have played so well that they've made my job so much easier and they've put me in a position where it allows me to take a risk, or to declare, or to bowl a certain bowler because I have the confidence of the boys in that change-room. So I've enjoyed every minute of it. I'll look forward to having a bit of a break now."

There are still plenty of flaws evident in the team Clarke is leading. The batting is the cause of most doubt, as the opening combination of David Warner and Ed Cowan has not yet reached the level required, Ricky Ponting's future in the game is a series-by-series proposition and Shane Watson has yet to prove he is capable of scoring centuries at No.3, an essential requirement for any top-class performer in that position. Beneath them, the next group of young batsmen is struggling to attain the heights they had initially promised - Phillip Hughes, Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh among them. This point of weakness will require plenty of considered discussion between Clarke and the selection panel but also Rod Marsh as the designated director of coaching among the states, for South Africa and England in particular are unlikely to be as accommodating in future series as India were during the home summer.

However the major strength Clarke has been able to call on across his first year in charge is a battery of pace bowlers that is burgeoning with speed, swing and promise. Older practitioners like Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus have learned new ways to succeed, and younger striplings including Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson and Pat Cummins have all shown how formidable they can become. Further back are the likes of Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Coulter-Nile. Bowlers, it is so often said, win Test matches, and for now Clarke is well stocked with options.

He also now has a spin bowler he can rely on in most situations, as Nathan Lyon builds his stamina and savvy on foreign pitches. While Lyon has not dominated every innings, and struggled notably in some, he is establishing the sort of record that very few Australian offspin bowlers have been able to boast of. None have surpassed Ashley Mallett's 132 from 38 Tests at 29.84, yet with 42 at 27.83 in 13 matches, Lyon is on his way. Most heartening in his growth is how much Clarke and the coach Mickey Arthur have worked to let him develop without being unfairly exposed by batsmen or critics. The lessons of a misspent first four years after Shane Warne's retirement, with slow bowlers tossed about like boats in Dominica's impending hurricane season, appear to have been learned.

The most significant transition that lies ahead for Clarke and his team is the choice of wicketkeeper for next summer and the Ashes series beyond it. Matthew Wade's contribution in the Caribbean was meritorious, for how he gleaned lessons from early struggles to capitalise in supreme fashion in Dominica. While his batting at Windsor Park will be the most memorable element of his work, Wade's keeping has also progressed greatly. Brad Haddin, meanwhile, sits at home with his family, older and wiser and a valued member of the team even though he was forced to leave it behind by difficult personal circumstances. Clarke does not want to lose Haddin, but he does want his team to move forward. His first 12 months in charge provide the strongest possible evidence of that fact.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Meety on April 29, 2012, 6:08 GMT

    @Jono Makim - agreed re: Kumble. I actually don't want Lyon to go down the path of a doosra though. I think it will only get "dumb" batsmen out. On a classic offies technique (which I believe Lyon is), I think it would be easy to pick. I think Doosr'a only really work if you have a "unique" bowling technique that makes full use of elbow extensions, (I won't go any further down that path for fear of what the debate will turn into!!!!!!)

  • on April 29, 2012, 5:55 GMT

    @Meety, the big difference was that while Kumble didn't turn it a lot, he could send it both ways... I'm a Lyon fan, but there's a lot of room for improvement, meanwhile there's also a lot of things he aready has right. Namely, if he is to become a top tier spinner, the likes of Murali, Ajmal etc, he needs to develop a ball that either goes straight through or a doosra. I think this is the final piece in the puzzle for Lyon, the sort of weaponry that takes a bowling average from 28-30 down to 23-25. What he already has on his side is very good stock bowling. Warnie always talked about young spinners coming through to firstly master their stock ball. Lyon has that and it's well flighted, accurate and he is able to adjust his pace to the conditions. The other thing I really like about him is that when the conditions suit him he takes the wickets and does the job he is meant to do, he performs his function in the team very well. He also looks to be level headed and big hearted!

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on April 29, 2012, 5:38 GMT

    @landl47 -- completely agree with you , nice to see some impartial views , usually its Indian , Australian and England's fan boys talking down other teams ... Australia urgently needs to find a long term replacement for ponting and hussey , also watson at no.3 in tests is a joke

  • on April 29, 2012, 4:03 GMT

    South Africa can't seem to put the final nail in he coffin to beat Australia. Comparing the last 3 series, they have a level record at 4-4 in 8 games played with SA winning in 08, Aus winning in 09 and the series drawn last year. SL always stutter when playing Australia but have no such trouble when playing against other teams at home. They also mount a challenge to other teams away, so I think it is the mindset of the SL test cricketers who make them think that they are playing the best nation in the world. India back to its own ways of being strong at home and struggling away. Pakistan have had a resurgence whilst England have been complacent. WI and NZ are just above the minnows and Australia are improving since Clark took over. This aussie summer could be exciting.

  • chicko1983 on April 29, 2012, 0:58 GMT

    @BillyCC, also forgotten In that 96 by SA is that they lost their last 9 for 47 as well so they did marginally better than Australia yet they were playing at home.

    Australia are the best team in the world right now, no doubt about it, and the rest of the nations will be playing catch up for another 15 years when we regain the no1 ranking next year. the worst period of Aussie cricket is well and truly over, at least people can now say they have seen Australia when they were ranked 5th because it won't happen again for a long time!

  • Meety on April 28, 2012, 21:47 GMT

    @Harry_Kool - one of the criticisms Lyon cops is that he doesn't spin the ball, didn't hurt Kumble in getting over 500 test wickets!!!!!

  • BillyCC on April 28, 2012, 21:36 GMT

    @gimme-a-greentop, agree with your assessment of Joburg. I just find it interesting that no one remembers the 96 but everyone remembers the 47. 96 also means that the South African batting can also struggle on bowling friendly wickets. Therefore, I am not convinced that they will have it their own way in both England and Australian conditions.

  • landl47 on April 28, 2012, 13:40 GMT

    I think Clarke has done a fantastic job and his captaincy is directly responsible for the turn in Australia's fortunes. He has brought purpose and imagination to the side, neither of which were apparent under Ponting, and his upbeat style and support of his players has got the best out of them. As the article says, there are challenges ahead. Ponting and Hussey are near the end of their careers with no obvious replacements and the top 3 look very vulnerable. However, the bowling looks good and I agree with Meety that Lyon has started his career very well. Good bowling and fielding can make up for ordinary batting, as the WI series has shown. Surely Wade must keep his spot; his batting, keeping and age all are in his favor over Haddin. A good year for Australia- great to see for those of us who relish the traditions of the game. Looking forward to another tremendous Ashes battle in 2013.

  • maddinson on April 28, 2012, 13:11 GMT

    The improvement is not a surprise, given the quality of young fast bowlers in the country. Batting is a concern for Australian cricket, I hope likes of Maddinson, Burns, patterson and Lynn perform better than inconsistent Ferguson, S Marsh and Hughes. Khawaja is a class player and CA should give him a decent run.

  • Bollo on April 28, 2012, 11:46 GMT

    @Sriraj G.S - yep, right with you there. The article is entitled `A year in the Life` and clearly states that the subject up for discussion is `the Australian cricket team over the period of Michael Clarke`s captaincy`. Surely Clarke`s first series as captain is a fairly obvious and logical place to start - don`t even need to go to uni to work that one out. Now, Sachin becoming a member of parliament, well different story there...

  • Meety on April 29, 2012, 6:08 GMT

    @Jono Makim - agreed re: Kumble. I actually don't want Lyon to go down the path of a doosra though. I think it will only get "dumb" batsmen out. On a classic offies technique (which I believe Lyon is), I think it would be easy to pick. I think Doosr'a only really work if you have a "unique" bowling technique that makes full use of elbow extensions, (I won't go any further down that path for fear of what the debate will turn into!!!!!!)

  • on April 29, 2012, 5:55 GMT

    @Meety, the big difference was that while Kumble didn't turn it a lot, he could send it both ways... I'm a Lyon fan, but there's a lot of room for improvement, meanwhile there's also a lot of things he aready has right. Namely, if he is to become a top tier spinner, the likes of Murali, Ajmal etc, he needs to develop a ball that either goes straight through or a doosra. I think this is the final piece in the puzzle for Lyon, the sort of weaponry that takes a bowling average from 28-30 down to 23-25. What he already has on his side is very good stock bowling. Warnie always talked about young spinners coming through to firstly master their stock ball. Lyon has that and it's well flighted, accurate and he is able to adjust his pace to the conditions. The other thing I really like about him is that when the conditions suit him he takes the wickets and does the job he is meant to do, he performs his function in the team very well. He also looks to be level headed and big hearted!

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on April 29, 2012, 5:38 GMT

    @landl47 -- completely agree with you , nice to see some impartial views , usually its Indian , Australian and England's fan boys talking down other teams ... Australia urgently needs to find a long term replacement for ponting and hussey , also watson at no.3 in tests is a joke

  • on April 29, 2012, 4:03 GMT

    South Africa can't seem to put the final nail in he coffin to beat Australia. Comparing the last 3 series, they have a level record at 4-4 in 8 games played with SA winning in 08, Aus winning in 09 and the series drawn last year. SL always stutter when playing Australia but have no such trouble when playing against other teams at home. They also mount a challenge to other teams away, so I think it is the mindset of the SL test cricketers who make them think that they are playing the best nation in the world. India back to its own ways of being strong at home and struggling away. Pakistan have had a resurgence whilst England have been complacent. WI and NZ are just above the minnows and Australia are improving since Clark took over. This aussie summer could be exciting.

  • chicko1983 on April 29, 2012, 0:58 GMT

    @BillyCC, also forgotten In that 96 by SA is that they lost their last 9 for 47 as well so they did marginally better than Australia yet they were playing at home.

    Australia are the best team in the world right now, no doubt about it, and the rest of the nations will be playing catch up for another 15 years when we regain the no1 ranking next year. the worst period of Aussie cricket is well and truly over, at least people can now say they have seen Australia when they were ranked 5th because it won't happen again for a long time!

  • Meety on April 28, 2012, 21:47 GMT

    @Harry_Kool - one of the criticisms Lyon cops is that he doesn't spin the ball, didn't hurt Kumble in getting over 500 test wickets!!!!!

  • BillyCC on April 28, 2012, 21:36 GMT

    @gimme-a-greentop, agree with your assessment of Joburg. I just find it interesting that no one remembers the 96 but everyone remembers the 47. 96 also means that the South African batting can also struggle on bowling friendly wickets. Therefore, I am not convinced that they will have it their own way in both England and Australian conditions.

  • landl47 on April 28, 2012, 13:40 GMT

    I think Clarke has done a fantastic job and his captaincy is directly responsible for the turn in Australia's fortunes. He has brought purpose and imagination to the side, neither of which were apparent under Ponting, and his upbeat style and support of his players has got the best out of them. As the article says, there are challenges ahead. Ponting and Hussey are near the end of their careers with no obvious replacements and the top 3 look very vulnerable. However, the bowling looks good and I agree with Meety that Lyon has started his career very well. Good bowling and fielding can make up for ordinary batting, as the WI series has shown. Surely Wade must keep his spot; his batting, keeping and age all are in his favor over Haddin. A good year for Australia- great to see for those of us who relish the traditions of the game. Looking forward to another tremendous Ashes battle in 2013.

  • maddinson on April 28, 2012, 13:11 GMT

    The improvement is not a surprise, given the quality of young fast bowlers in the country. Batting is a concern for Australian cricket, I hope likes of Maddinson, Burns, patterson and Lynn perform better than inconsistent Ferguson, S Marsh and Hughes. Khawaja is a class player and CA should give him a decent run.

  • Bollo on April 28, 2012, 11:46 GMT

    @Sriraj G.S - yep, right with you there. The article is entitled `A year in the Life` and clearly states that the subject up for discussion is `the Australian cricket team over the period of Michael Clarke`s captaincy`. Surely Clarke`s first series as captain is a fairly obvious and logical place to start - don`t even need to go to uni to work that one out. Now, Sachin becoming a member of parliament, well different story there...

  • on April 28, 2012, 9:59 GMT

    @sachin_vvsfan: Funny to see you mocking your own following of the game here! Randy starts with the SL series because that was Michael Clarke's FIRST series as captain!!! LOL! And this is an article about Clarke's first summer of captaincy -- time for some logic lectures from uni maybe?

  • Marcio on April 28, 2012, 9:37 GMT

    Yes, a very successful year all up. In fact it is probably about the best possible of all scenarios, given that there are many obvious areas of improvement required. It is easy to cherry pick low points, as haters always do. 47 all out vs SA, which t the time meant perpetual doom for the team, according to some. Yet this is taken out of context. I don't hear anyone saying SA is doomed because they lost 9/49 on that exact same pitch, same day, an almost identical score. Notably AUS scored 8/310 in the 4th innings of the next game to tie the series. What great courage and determination to come back from the humiliation of the previous week! Now, that's something I will always remember from this past season. So a big congrats to Clarkey and the boys for your efforts. They are well appreciated by this supporter.

  • gimme-a-greentop on April 28, 2012, 9:37 GMT

    @BillyCC..agree that SA didn't do well in Joburg and that with their current team should dominate a lot more than they do, but I really don't agree that the Cape Town Test exposed them as a team that doesn't do well under pressure. They where way behind on first innings and bounced back to win easily (not the first time either in recent times against Oz, think Perth and Melbourne). Nor were they 'lucky', Steyn, Philander and Morkel bowled brilliantly while being aided by some loose shots from Hussey and Haddin. All the rest where beaten fair and square. Anyway Australia are definitely on the way back up..Clarke is brilliant, Lyon is obviously not a 'club bowler' like some people have called him here on cricinfo and it should also be mentioned that SA achieved their best ever results under Mickey Arthur, he could be just be the man to coach Oz back to the top. I think there is almost nothing between England, Aus and SA at the moment.

  • sachin_vvsfan on April 28, 2012, 7:35 GMT

    @RandyOZ LOLz. That team actually beat you in your own backyard.And we know why you started your analysis with SL win. :)

  • maxximoo on April 28, 2012, 4:01 GMT

    excellent comments kids (at least until n23:47 GMT). Regardless of the comments of many fans, the ICC rankings are dynamic. You can be middle of the table, but on your way up is vastly different to on your way down. I am very much enjoying watching this AUS team grow. We can take 20 wickets now - that is the key - and there is time for the other stars to align. Pup's captaincy cant be praised enough! Positive, innovative, creative, attacking.... Test cricket has hope when captains play to win and not to avoid defeat. I dont think WI were as bad a team as others were making out and the pitches weren't conducive to bat-a-thons. Many of the comments through this series were illinformed and even bizzare. WI will rise through the rankings soon to. Interesting to note who is falling through them to make way. AUS will challenge for number 1 - but they wont be challenging ENG :)

  • dsig3 on April 28, 2012, 3:39 GMT

    Its been a fantastic twelve months really. It had crushing lows which made the highs all the better. Great entertainment and you really did not know what would happen next. Winning is a habit that you cannot teach, the more wins we get the more the boys will believe in themselves again.

  • Harry_Kool on April 28, 2012, 3:04 GMT

    @Meety, I hope they continue to underestimate him. I like him, he is on the improve, iis learning all the time & performed admirably against the masters of spin bowling on an Adelaide pitch that most resembled Indian pitches. Now for some batsmen to stake their claim.

  • RandyOZ on April 28, 2012, 2:39 GMT

    Australia have won in SL, drew in SA, clean swept India and wiped the floor in the Windies. Is there a better team in the world at the moment? I think not. It certainly isn't that team that just scraped a draw in SL, got whitewashed by Pakistan and have lost 4 or their past 5 that's for sure.

  • chicko1983 on April 28, 2012, 1:42 GMT

    Aussies will beat SA in Australia next year, I have no doubt.

  • Meety on April 27, 2012, 23:47 GMT

    Just a quicky on Swann v Lyon. After 13 matches, Swann had taken 11 more wickets than Lyon, however, BOTH his S/R & average were inferior (significantly) to Lyon!!! Given that Lyon has a sample size of tests 30% the size of Swann's, I think we are now able to make some comparisons (not definitive). Against arguably the "best" players of spin, (India), their averages are almost identical, Swann has a superior record against SL & slightly better v WI, but slightly inferior v the Saffas. Swann does have ONE considerable black mark against his name, v Oz he averages over 40 with a S/R of 80. Atm - Swann has 11 times the experience of Lyon (based on FC matches alone) & is very well accomplished & has been ranked #1 spinner in the world - all great achievements. All I am saying - is that anybody trashing Lyon is indirectly trashing Swann, they'd better be an Ajmal fan because they aint got a leg to stand on otherwise!!!!!

  • Meety on April 27, 2012, 23:26 GMT

    @ BillyCC - "..although on paper, South Africa should win comfortably.." - agreed, that's the remarkable thing about the Saffas, the team they have should be well out on top of the rankings, (the rankings have some quirks that need to be fixed but it doesn't change the perception that the Saffas don't utilize their abilities enuff). == == == Good article, didn't like the mention of Oz being tired though, (probably were), but I think it takes away the lusty fight of the WIndies tail with their backs to the wall! Agreed 100% on the discussion of Lyon. I think he is developing brilliantly & I estimate (subjectively) that he is barely only 2/3s the way to the player he can become. Given he is already world class (statistically), that bodes well for Oz. Whilst ever our pacers are taking wickets (plenty to suggest that will be a regular event), Lyon will be an even more dangerous proposition, just LIKE Swann is with England, behind his seamers.

  • Chris_P on April 27, 2012, 23:14 GMT

    You would take a year like this every time. The result showed Australia climbed from #5 to currently #3 displacing Sri Lanka & India from ahead of them (& beating them both in series). There is still a long way to go, the batting is far from settled, but I am confident in our huge deplths of pace bowling. Now for a break to recharge and await the Saffers after what should be a very interesting contest in England.

  • BillyCC on April 27, 2012, 21:45 GMT

    An extremely successful season for Clarke, congrats to him. He will be aware that Cape Town and Hobart exposed some weaknesses in the batting, which do need to be addressed. The batting depth in Australia is not great and so changes would be a huge risk in the leadup to the Ashes. As for the summer ahead, I believe the Cape Town and Johannesburg test actually exposed South Africa more as a test team which continually fails under pressure. It was South Africa who were lucky after being bowled out for 96. And then not being able to defend a +300 score on Day 5 with the number one bowler in the world is pretty awful. Australia have a good chance against the Proteas in the summer, although on paper, South Africa should win comfortably.

  • on April 27, 2012, 19:32 GMT

    Full steam ahead for the Aussies. They have a huge amount of fresh blood under the age of 25, a very shrewd captain and some very good players around the 30 year old make which they can rely on in tight situations. The batting perhaps may look a little slim but really the ability is there, it just needs a little more time and exposure, meanwhile Hussey and Ponting will tide them over. This team could be anything in three years time given the bowling talent, just have to ramp up their individual experience at a steady rate until they are hardened performers.

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  • on April 27, 2012, 19:32 GMT

    Full steam ahead for the Aussies. They have a huge amount of fresh blood under the age of 25, a very shrewd captain and some very good players around the 30 year old make which they can rely on in tight situations. The batting perhaps may look a little slim but really the ability is there, it just needs a little more time and exposure, meanwhile Hussey and Ponting will tide them over. This team could be anything in three years time given the bowling talent, just have to ramp up their individual experience at a steady rate until they are hardened performers.

  • BillyCC on April 27, 2012, 21:45 GMT

    An extremely successful season for Clarke, congrats to him. He will be aware that Cape Town and Hobart exposed some weaknesses in the batting, which do need to be addressed. The batting depth in Australia is not great and so changes would be a huge risk in the leadup to the Ashes. As for the summer ahead, I believe the Cape Town and Johannesburg test actually exposed South Africa more as a test team which continually fails under pressure. It was South Africa who were lucky after being bowled out for 96. And then not being able to defend a +300 score on Day 5 with the number one bowler in the world is pretty awful. Australia have a good chance against the Proteas in the summer, although on paper, South Africa should win comfortably.

  • Chris_P on April 27, 2012, 23:14 GMT

    You would take a year like this every time. The result showed Australia climbed from #5 to currently #3 displacing Sri Lanka & India from ahead of them (& beating them both in series). There is still a long way to go, the batting is far from settled, but I am confident in our huge deplths of pace bowling. Now for a break to recharge and await the Saffers after what should be a very interesting contest in England.

  • Meety on April 27, 2012, 23:26 GMT

    @ BillyCC - "..although on paper, South Africa should win comfortably.." - agreed, that's the remarkable thing about the Saffas, the team they have should be well out on top of the rankings, (the rankings have some quirks that need to be fixed but it doesn't change the perception that the Saffas don't utilize their abilities enuff). == == == Good article, didn't like the mention of Oz being tired though, (probably were), but I think it takes away the lusty fight of the WIndies tail with their backs to the wall! Agreed 100% on the discussion of Lyon. I think he is developing brilliantly & I estimate (subjectively) that he is barely only 2/3s the way to the player he can become. Given he is already world class (statistically), that bodes well for Oz. Whilst ever our pacers are taking wickets (plenty to suggest that will be a regular event), Lyon will be an even more dangerous proposition, just LIKE Swann is with England, behind his seamers.

  • Meety on April 27, 2012, 23:47 GMT

    Just a quicky on Swann v Lyon. After 13 matches, Swann had taken 11 more wickets than Lyon, however, BOTH his S/R & average were inferior (significantly) to Lyon!!! Given that Lyon has a sample size of tests 30% the size of Swann's, I think we are now able to make some comparisons (not definitive). Against arguably the "best" players of spin, (India), their averages are almost identical, Swann has a superior record against SL & slightly better v WI, but slightly inferior v the Saffas. Swann does have ONE considerable black mark against his name, v Oz he averages over 40 with a S/R of 80. Atm - Swann has 11 times the experience of Lyon (based on FC matches alone) & is very well accomplished & has been ranked #1 spinner in the world - all great achievements. All I am saying - is that anybody trashing Lyon is indirectly trashing Swann, they'd better be an Ajmal fan because they aint got a leg to stand on otherwise!!!!!

  • chicko1983 on April 28, 2012, 1:42 GMT

    Aussies will beat SA in Australia next year, I have no doubt.

  • RandyOZ on April 28, 2012, 2:39 GMT

    Australia have won in SL, drew in SA, clean swept India and wiped the floor in the Windies. Is there a better team in the world at the moment? I think not. It certainly isn't that team that just scraped a draw in SL, got whitewashed by Pakistan and have lost 4 or their past 5 that's for sure.

  • Harry_Kool on April 28, 2012, 3:04 GMT

    @Meety, I hope they continue to underestimate him. I like him, he is on the improve, iis learning all the time & performed admirably against the masters of spin bowling on an Adelaide pitch that most resembled Indian pitches. Now for some batsmen to stake their claim.

  • dsig3 on April 28, 2012, 3:39 GMT

    Its been a fantastic twelve months really. It had crushing lows which made the highs all the better. Great entertainment and you really did not know what would happen next. Winning is a habit that you cannot teach, the more wins we get the more the boys will believe in themselves again.

  • maxximoo on April 28, 2012, 4:01 GMT

    excellent comments kids (at least until n23:47 GMT). Regardless of the comments of many fans, the ICC rankings are dynamic. You can be middle of the table, but on your way up is vastly different to on your way down. I am very much enjoying watching this AUS team grow. We can take 20 wickets now - that is the key - and there is time for the other stars to align. Pup's captaincy cant be praised enough! Positive, innovative, creative, attacking.... Test cricket has hope when captains play to win and not to avoid defeat. I dont think WI were as bad a team as others were making out and the pitches weren't conducive to bat-a-thons. Many of the comments through this series were illinformed and even bizzare. WI will rise through the rankings soon to. Interesting to note who is falling through them to make way. AUS will challenge for number 1 - but they wont be challenging ENG :)