If Australia defeat Pakistan and India in Test series later this year, they could be the top-ranked side
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Sydney, 7 March
Michael Clarke says Australia have a long way to go before supplanting South Africa as the number one Test cricket team.
Captain Clarke returned home on Friday after leading the Australians to an epic 2-1 series win over the Proteas in South Africa to cement their status as the second team in world cricket behind South Africa.
Clarke said despite their supremacy over South Africa in the recent series, his side would be foolish to consider themselves the best team in Test cricket and said the job was far from done.
If Australia defeat Pakistan and India in Test series later this year, they could be the top-ranked side. "I think South Africa have well and truly earned that mantle and that doesn’t come lightly," Clarke told reporters.
"You’ve got to have success over a long period of time and they’ve (the Proteas) done that. We’re playing some really good cricket and I think we’re improving as a team but there’s a long way to go before we will consider ourselves the number one team in the world."
Clarke predicted that Australia would take home their first World Twenty20 crown from Bangladesh in March-April.Australia have never won the short-form tournament, but Clarke is confident they can carry on from the Test series wins over England and South Africa and take the world T20 title.
"I think they can. I think they’ll be led extremely well by George Bailey. He’s captained the Twenty20 team exceptionally well for a while now," he said.
"I think the confidence the Test players will take out of this series and bring into the Twenty20 team will certainly help as well. So I’m backing the boys. I’m really confident they’ll win the Twenty20 World Cup."
Demon paceman Mitchell Johnson will be rested from Australia’s three-match T20 series against South Africa, starting on Sunday in Port Elizabeth.
Johnson will link up with the national T20 squad next week in Bangladesh for the World Twenty20, having been given extra time to rest after a long summer of success.
The left-armer claimed 22 wickets at an average of 17.36 in the three-Test series with the Proteas, which followed his 37 English scalps at 13.97 to be man of the Ashes series.
In another development, Australians have acclaimed their cricket team’s epic series win over South Africa, but not the manner in which they achieved it.
The team were rebuked by sections of the media on Friday over their on-field behaviour during the Cape Town Test.
“Darren Lehmann has guided the Australian cricket side to the top of the world. His next challenge is to control it,” cricket columnist Robert Craddock said.
“Australian fans like to see their side play tough cricket but social media in Australia yesterday had strong feedback from fans wanting their side to behave better. The sight of Clarke angrily confronting umpires and Australian fieldsmen barking like dogs at batsmen left a lot of people cold and alienated from the team and their success.”Some Australian cricketers were pictured howling following the dismissal of South African batsman Faf du Plessis, in reaction to Du Plessis’s comments likening them to “a pack of dogs” in the field.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said the barking dogs incident might have been childish, but he saw it as funny.
“That’s just typical childish cricketers, but he (Du Plessis) asked for that with his comments a few days earlier,” Sutherland said in a radio interview, adding: “Some people might not see the humour in that but I did.”
David Sygall, writing in Fairfax Media, said: “The Australian psyche is characterised by uncompromising toughness, determination and dignity. Those traits must no longer be confused with boorish and bullying behaviour.
‘Smith the best’: Graeme Smith has received an enormous compliment from former India coach Gary Kirsten, who called the just-retired South African legend the “best captain that has ever lived” in Test cricket. Kirsten, under whom Smith played the final four Test series of his career, said, “Is he the greatest captain ever in Test match cricket? In my view he must be.”