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

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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."