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Most satisfying day or feeling in my career: Michael Clarke on No.1 Test ranking

Michael Clarke reacts to an England boundary at Lords last year.

Michael Clarke reacts to an England boundary at Lords last year. Photo: AFP

When Michael Clarke was told on Wednesday night about Australia’s long-awaited return to the summit of the Test world rankings, his mind immediately scrolled back a year. When they were the laughing stock of world cricket.

‘‘We were named the worst Australian team to ever tour India,’’ Clarke said on Thursday. ‘‘As captain, that’s the last thing you want to hear. That breaks your heart.’’

How times have changed. If the Australian captain’s broken heart wasn’t mended by a 5-0 Ashes thrashing of England, then a 2-1 series win against top dogs South Africa in their backyard, then it was with the issuing of the new International Cricket Council ratings.

Australia’s rise to No.1 – they also retain their top position in one-day international cricket – arrived without a ball being bowled.

Their elevation above the Proteas comes due to the quirks of the computer-rankings concept: results from 2010-11, when Australia were beaten 2-0 by India and 3-1 by England, were stripped off each nation’s points, and Tests played in 2012 and last year lost 50 per cent of their weighting.

Critics of the system will argue South Africa do not deserve to surrender their No.1 status – they are behind by a fraction of a point – after a sustained period of dominance when Australia only came good in the past six months after not winning a Test between January and November last year.

However, it was not just Australians marking the occasion on Thursday. ‘‘Well done to the Aussies for reaching No.1 in Tests and ODIs,’’ tweeted former England captain Michael Vaughan. ‘‘Hate to say but they completely deserve it.’’

The timing of the rankings tweak – the ICC conduct an annual update of points on May 1 – robbed Australia of the opportunity for another round of celebrations, as players were spread round the globe either in the Indian Premier League, English county cricket or at home, but Clarke said that mattered not.

‘‘I guarantee you one thing: there is no wrong time to be announced as the No.1 team in the world,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s the way it goes. I guarantee you every player will enjoy this news.

‘‘As captain of this team through the last couple of years, what we’ve been through, I don’t think I’ve had a more satisfying day or feeling in my career.’’

Clarke’s gratification can be explained not only by their navigation out of the awful mess they were in on the subcontinent last year, where they lost to India 4-0, but also by the fact they’ve risen four places since his first Test as full-time captain in Sri Lanka in 2011.

‘‘I guess to enjoy today, and see the other side in what I think is a pretty quick turnaround, in two years we’ve gone from No.5 to No.1, I’m extremely proud of that,’’ Clarke said.

‘‘I think the public that watch us play now they see how close a group we are inside the camp, which is obviously a fantastic achievement. We’ve worked exceptionally hard to get here; we have to work harder to stay here.’’

Meanwhile, Graham Gooch has become the latest victim of England’s Ashes capitulation when it was announced on Thursday he was leaving his post as the team’s batting coach.

‘‘Alastair Cook informed me that he was in favour of change,’’ Gooch said. ‘‘Although this was sad news, I respect his, and new coach Peter Moores', right to implement this change of direction."

7 comments so far

  • Best day of your life based on a flawed mathematical formula? In my eyes Australia need to perform in India to be considered number 1, last time it was 4-0 and that was barely a year ago.

    Commenter
    Chuck
    Date and time
    May 02, 2014, 6:10AM
    • So in your eyes, who is number one? South Africa just lost to Australia at home. India can't win anywhere but at home. Pakistan can't play anywhere but away from home. England are a rabble. The rest are also-rans right now.
      I'd rather they just abolished the rankings, it's a pointless gimmick.

      Commenter
      Mouse
      Date and time
      May 02, 2014, 12:17PM
    • Where is the flaw? Are you saying India are number 1 because they win at home?

      Commenter
      Growler
      Location
      The Couch
      Date and time
      May 02, 2014, 3:52PM
  • So glad England didn't pick Trevor Baylis as coach we might have had something to worry about now we will dominate them for another 20 years

    Commenter
    Rickover
    Date and time
    May 02, 2014, 6:24AM
    • This whole ranking system is flawed. Within a span of 2-3 years we see the following
      India was the number 1 team and lost 4-0 to both England and Australia.
      England becomes the number 1 team and loses 5-0 to Oz.
      SA become number 1. Lost to Oz - still better than the rest
      OZ becomes number 1. Lost to India 4-0 barely a year back.

      Cannot expect anything better from a useless institution like ICC.

      Commenter
      Sam
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      May 02, 2014, 10:26AM
      • Agree totally but there are so few teams so any ranking system with 4 main players is useless. As for the ICC being run by India , I'm sure at sometime they will pull out of Internationals altogether. It seems only SA and Australia are up for travel, the rest can't be bothered or motivated. It's a farce !

        Commenter
        Bonzo
        Date and time
        May 03, 2014, 2:02PM
    • Pup and the team are not at fault for a dubious system. We rank 1. First goal since pup became Captain Tick. Next is to retain 1. By the way South Africa ranked 1 for last 5 years. Australia beat the number 1 team on thier home patch. Enough said

      Commenter
      Armchair Selector
      Date and time
      May 02, 2014, 5:37PM

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