'Don't let up on England', Clarke tells Australians

GREG BUCKLE
Last updated 05:00 26/12/2013
Michael Clarke
Getty Images
RUN MACHINE: Michael Clarke celebrates his century in the second Ashes test.

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Australia have regained the Ashes but they're ranked fifth and the gushing praise from fans and the media can soon turn against them.

That's the message from Australia captain Michael Clarke, who said on the eve of the Boxing Day Test against England that he was looking no further ahead than Thursday.

A five-nil sweep would lift Australia to third on Test cricket's rankings.

It would also give Australia the perfect build-up to their tour of South Africa in February.

But Clarke's Ashes heroes have won only four of their 13 Tests in 2013.

The skipper says he's not silly enough to think it's all going to be beer and skittles from now on, despite big wins in the first three Tests against England.

Australia's Ashes tour in 2015 presumably looms large on Clarke's calendar, although he wasn't admitting to that on Wednesday.

"Not really, no," he said.

"I aim to win this test match, probably because I've seen both sides of this game.

"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 to be honest 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.

"That has been my advice to a lot of players who come onto the international scene.

"It's very easy to say don't look too far ahead. But it's so crucial in this world and that's where we sit as a team now."

Clarke pointed to Australia's tour of India in March, where the home side won four-nil.

"We were the worst Australian cricket team to ever tour India," Clarke said.

"Ricky Ponting might have said in an article the other day it could be the greatest-ever Ashes win by an Australian cricket team.

"So things can change. I'll make sure I stay focused on this test match."

Australia are expected to name an unchanged side despite a slight doubt over veteran quick Ryan Harris who has an ongoing knee complaint.

England captain Alastair Cook says pace spearhead Stuart Broad is showing encouraging signs he has regained full fitness after suffering a foot injury in the third test in Perth.

The beaten-down tourists are likely to include spinner Monty Panesar for Graeme Swann who abruptly retired on Sunday.

Clarke has no fears of his team losing focus despite the emotional scenes of celebration in Perth.

"Not at all and I think I've said that 45 times in the past week," he said.

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"We're ranked fifth in the world ... so there's no complacency at all."

Clarke doesn't have to dig too deep onto his own memory banks to find the sort of heartache Cook is facing.

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

"We've experienced a lot of tough times over the past couple of years, especially the last 12 months.

"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."

- AAP

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