Ashes 2013-14: Michael Clarke refuses to get complacent

Three wide-margin wins over England have put the hosts in an unassailable lead already

Michael Clarke had the Ashes in safe keeping before Christmas, but he still struggles to rate 2013 as a successful year for Australian cricket.

Three wide-margin wins over England have put the hosts in an unassailable lead already, with a whitewash on the agenda if they can close the deal again in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne and then Sydney in the new year.

But Clarke is mindful that the sudden rush of success is at odds with what preceded it, under his captaincy - including Australia's own 3-0 Ashes defeat in England last summer.

He is therefore both mildly empathetic with the lot of his opposite number Alastair Cook, and very wary of crowing about Australia's improvement just yet.

"We've experienced a lot of tough times over the past couple of years - especially the last 12 months, when we haven't had much success at all," he said.

"So I don't think it would be fair for me to sit here and give advice to Alastair or the England team - because we've only won three Test matches out of a dozen now.

"That certainly doesn't sound like a successful Test cricketing year for an Australian team.

"We're ranked fifth in the world and won three Test matches in the past 12 months, so there's no complacency at all.

"This Test is as important as (the first one in) Brisbane was."

Clarke has had a prolific series so far at number four, but added: "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 - 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."

As for Cook, the advice from down under is that - however bad things seem - the tide will turn eventually.

"You've just got to keep the faith," Clarke said.

"England have a very good team, a lot of very good individual players.

"They know they've got the stock there, but it's just about them continuing to do what they've done for long periods of time that got them to be the number one team in the world."

That status seems a universe away now for Cook and Co, but Clarke knows better than anyone how quickly a team can go from zeros to heroes.

"Two months ago we were the worst Australian cricket team to ever tour India," he said.

"Two months on, I think [former captain] Ricky Ponting might have said in an article the other day it could be the greatest ever Ashes win by an Australian cricket team."

Australia paceman Ryan Harris is on track to play in the Boxing Day Test, according to Clarke, despite having been battling a knee complaint since the hosts' third-Test triumph in Perth over a week ago.

The 34-year-old has a long history of injury troubles, with his most recent serious ailment coming four months ago when he badly tore his hamstring in the final Test of the summer Ashes series.

But, despite the urn having already been secured, Clarke intimated the Queenslander would not be rested and that the only thing that might prevent Harris from featuring in Melbourne would be the playing conditions rather than his fitness.

"We've got, at this stage, the same 12 for tomorrow's Test match," Clarke said on Wednesday

"We'll announce the XI tomorrow at the toss but, at this stage, everyone seems fully fit.

"I think it's more about assessing the conditions tomorrow morning before we announce our XI."

Doug Bollinger and Nathan Coulter-Nile remain on standby to replace Harris.

PA

News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
art
News
newsIn short, yes
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
News
i100
Life and Style
Cara Delevigne at the TopShop Unique show during London Fashion Week
fashion
News
The life-sized tribute to Amy Winehouse was designed by Scott Eaton and was erected at the Stables Market in Camden
peopleBut quite what the singer would have made of her new statue...
Sport
England's Andy Sullivan poses with his trophy and an astronaut after winning a trip to space
sport
News
peopleThe actress has agreed to host the Met Gala Ball - but not until 2015
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories