Clarke thanked Smith for yet another classic series between South Africa and Australia
Australia captain Michael Clarke has admitted that his side were beaten by South Africa since they were the better team this time around.
Despite the first two Tests at Brisbane and Adelaide ending as draws, Australia seemed to have taken a psychological advantage over their opponents, but the Proteas meant business during the final Test at Perth and showed why they belonged atop the Test team rankings.
After being hammered throughout the entire first two Tests, Dale Steyn and the rest of the pace attack, along with spinner Robin Peterson, showed why they were truly the ‘best in the world’ by keeping the Australian batsmen under constant pressure and dismissing them for 163 in their first innings on an excellent batting track.
As if they weren’t embarrassed enough, the Australians found themselves needing 632 runs to win the Test match after South Africa captain Graeme Smith’s 84 was followed by Hashim Amla’s 196 and AB de Villiers’ 169.
Australia lost the match by 309 runs and their chance to upset South Africa and move ahead of them to become the top Test team in international cricket.
At the conclusion of the match, Clarke admitted that his team had failed to use the upper hand they had throughout most of the series.
“I don’t want to take anything away from South Africa,” Clarke said. “They showed why they’re the No.1 Test team in the world. On the other hand I want to pay credit to the Australian boys to be able to fight it out so tough and stay strong up until this Test match. What South Africa showed us is when they had momentum, they ran with it for as long as they possibly could and when they didn’t have [it], they did everything in their power to fight their backsides off to try and grab it back.
“There’s probably a few occasions throughout the series where we had momentum and didn’t run with it for long enough, that’s for sure. Against these teams, the best teams, you can’t afford to do that … There’s plenty of pros and cons and that’s something we need to do over the next few days, to assess where we continue to improve and the positives we can take from this series, the areas we need to get better if we want to be the No.1 team in the world.”
Australia’s top order was a major problem and resting their main pace duo of Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle for the final Test baffled many cricket pundits.
However, Clarke believes that Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson, debutant John Hastings and off-spinner Nathan Lyon all bowled extremely well given that the conditions were more favourable for batting.
“I don’t want to take anything away from the Australian bowlers, I thought they bowled really well in the first innings and tried their backside off on a flat wicket in the second innings,” Clarke said. “I believe the reason we didn’t give ourselves the best chance of winning this Test match is because of the way we batted in our first innings.”
With Ricky Ponting also having failed to make a decent score throughout the entire series and announcing his retirement just before the start of the third Test, Clarke noted that it had affected every member of the team since his predecessor was an inspiration to everyone in the dressing room.
“It’s been a tough week, that’s for sure,” Clarke said. “I still don’t think it’s hit the players fully yet. I think it will come against Sri Lanka when we walk out on the field and see he’s not there. It’s not just about what he does on the field, it’s also off the field, around training sessions, in the change-room, his help, advice, guidance, is something that can’t be replaced.”