Australia captain Michael Clarke was a relieved man after a century in an 88-run One-Day International (ODI) win over England at Old Trafford played a key role in his first victory over a Test nation in seven months.
Clarke’s 105 off just 102 balls was the centrepiece of Australia’s 315 for seven in the second ODI at Old Trafford on Sunday against an England side resting several members of their Ashes-winning attack.
England, also giving a break to regular captain Alastair Cook and fellow one-day opener Ian Bell, were then dismissed for 227 as Australia went 1-0 up in the five-match series following Friday’s washout in Leeds.
For Man-of-the-Match Clarke, it was the first time he’d been on the winning side against a Test nation since Australia’s five-wicket victory in the fourth ODI against the West Indies in Sydney on February 8.
His winless spell has encompassed a 4-0 Test series whitewash in India and the 3-0 Ashes 2013 defeat in England, while the length of the current tour of the UK can be judged from the fact Australia are now on their third Prime Minister following Saturday’s election of Tony Abbott since the team arrived in Britain.
Clarke, who no longer plays Twenty20 Internationals, missed the recent 1-1 T20 campaign against England but was in charge for Tuesday’s 200-run ODI thrashing of non-Test minnows Scotland in Edinburgh.
“It’s better than my last few press conferences,” said Clarke. “I think it’s probably the one thing that I’ve emphasised to the Test boys but also the one-day guys, that sometimes it might not look pretty or feel great but if you get over the line and get that winning feeling, it’s a nice side of the fence to be on, that’s for sure.”
Clarke’s innings came just over a month after he scored a brilliant 187 at Old Trafford in the drawn third Ashes Test.
“I’d like to play every Test and every one-dayer in Manchester — I seem to be scoring some runs here,” he said. “It’s about trying to help the team win. Fortunately today (Sunday) I played my part.”
England’s daunting chase was derailed from the outset when often erratic left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, not selected for the Ashes squad, took two wickets in three deliveries to dismiss Michael Carberry and Jonathan Trott.
“He bowled really well,” Clarke said of Johnson. “He’s bowling good pace and he swung the new ball so they’re positive signs for not only Mitch, but Australian cricket going forward.”
As for Johnson gaining a Test recall, Clarke added: “If Mitch continues to bowl the way he’s bowling, there’s no doubt (that could happen).”
England, despite a maiden ODI half-century from Jos Buttler (75) and further half-centuries for Kevin Pietersen (60) and stand-in captain Eoin Morgan (54) were never in the hunt as they lost with nearly six overs remaining.