Shane Watson, Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin celebrate in Adelaide.

Shane Watson, Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin celebrate in Adelaide. Photo: Getty Images

The once turbulent relationship between Michael Clarke and Shane Watson continued to improve after the captain paid tribute to his former deputy's selflessness in the third Ashes Test in Perth.

Clarke believes Watson, who has copped criticism for several inconsistent Test performances in recent years, is making the high-pressure No.3 slot his own and praised his approach in Australia's second innings.

Watson scored a whirlwind 103 off 108 balls, which included a brutal run of 74 off 41 balls on the fourth morning. The all-rounder lost his wicket chasing quick runs when he could easily have settled for a not out to swell his average.

''I think he played really well the other day,'' Clarke said. ''It's obviously a tough position, and he's scored two hundreds there in his last few Test matches.

''Watto is hitting the ball as good as I've seen and wasn't too far away from big scores, so thankfully he walked out and played that way and showed great intent. And again what Watto did the other day was put the team first.

''He knew we were trying to score as many runs as we could before our declaration and he put the team first, which is a great example to the young players that that's what we're trying to do in our team, and it’s good to see.’’

Clarke’s comments are in stark contrast to those he was alleged to have made about Watson in the past. It was alleged in a leaked  document lodged by former coach Mickey Arthur in his lawsuit against Cricket Australia in July that Clarke had described the former vice-captain as a ‘‘cancer’’ on the team.

That revelation came only months after the infamous homework debacle in Mohali.  Watson was one of four players stood down for not completing a task set by Arthur.

That led to the declaration by Cricket Australia’s team performance boss, Pat Howard,  that Watson was a team player only ‘‘sometimes’’.

The upper echelons of Australian cricket are far happier these days  thanks to the team’s annihilation of England.

Clarke publicly thanked team physio Alex Kountouris and doctor Peter Brukner for their  help in Australia’s success.

The pair helped Clarke, who has a chronic back injury,  to play every Test  and kept Australia’s premier fast-bowling attack intact.

‘‘Without Alex’s help I wouldn’t have played as many Tests as I have so I try to thank him as much as I can,’’ Clarke said. ‘‘Lots of guys in the team are exactly the same  ... He and the doc, Peter, have done a fantastic job in looking after the current crop in making sure we’re as fit as we can be leading up and getting through Test matches. There’s two more Tests to go this summer so hopefully they can continue to do their good work.’’

CA’s scheduling, in particular the decision to stage the domestic one-day cup in a carnival format and the  run of six Sheffield Shield  rounds in as many weeks, had copped plenty of criticism but it is now being seen in a different light.

‘‘It’s all contributed, there’s no doubt about it,’’ Clarke said.

Steve Smith said the Shield schedule was ‘‘perfect’’ as it  gave all players  plenty of four-day cricket  before the Ashes.

Although the urn is now in Australia’s keeping, Clarke scoffed at suggestions this would take the edge off his team for the final two Tests. ‘‘[We’re] currently ranked fifth in the world  ... We want to be the No.1 Test team. We’ve got some work to do still.’’