The Telegraph
Monday , January 6 , 2014
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Johnson’s spells match those of greats: Clarke

Calcutta: The story in Sydney didn’t turn out to be any different than the previous four Tests… Neither for Australia, nor for England.

After a massive 281-run victory, Australia captain Michael Clarke, at the media conference, was understandably ecstatic with his team’s 5-0 Ashes sweep.

Cricket Australia, meanwhile, will hold a public celebration for the victorious team, at the Northern Boardwalk of the Sydney Opera House, on Tuesday.

The team will be presented with the Waterford Crystal Ashes Trophy, a large replica of the original Ashes urn, ahead of signing autographs and distributing ‘giveaways’ for those in attendance.

The following are excerpts


On the victory

It’s very special for a number of reasons. Firstly, I think it’s a fantastic achievement for the same XI played in all five Tests. A lot of credit goes to the support staff and the medical staff for keeping the players fit, especially the bowlers who needed to come out on the field and give their best everyday of the Test series. So our team doctor and our physio deserve a lot of credit.

It’s also special because a lot of hard work had gone in. It’s been a roller-coaster ride... The start of 2013 certainly didn’t go anywhere near as well as we would have liked. I think that’s what feels so satisfying at the moment. We’ve been able to turn things around. I don’t want to disrespect anyone in that 2006-07 team (last Australian team to win 5-0 series) to say that this is a better win than then... I just think it’s a different time, a different era.

On the personal front

To me it’s more special and probably more personal because I’m the captain. They just needed some direction on where we wanted to go and how we wanted to go about it. I thought we had the makings of winning the Ashes comfortably, but maybe not 5-0… We need to move forward as a team and win away from home.

We believe we have the team to have success. It’s not that if we win in South Africa all of a sudden we will think that we’re the best team in the world. It’s not about that. It’s about consistency home and away over long periods of time and if you do that, you will get the results you’re after.

On his bowlers doing exceedingly well

We have the greatest attack in the world and they’ve shown it… It’s certainly going to be a challenge for us to perform in South Africa and then in our next Test series in the UAE, against Pakistan, which is going to be extremely tough as well. It’s hard to get results playing away from home.

On Mitchell Johnson

I hate to say I told you all so, but I indeed told you all so. Man of the series, who would have thought that? Except me and probably Mitch. He’s been an amazing bowler for a long time. I think the way he’s come back into this team, he’s bowled with great aggression. To be able to do bowl at that pace is one thing, and to do it for five Test matches, in every single innings, to be able to back it up, is an amazing achievement.

Mitch bowled a couple of spells in this series that are without doubt as good a spell as I’ve seen in my career. And I’ve been lucky enough to play with Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Brett Lee and Shane Warne. Mitch’s spells certainly match that of the greats, if not better. He deserves all the credit he’s received… He’s copped a lot of criticism, he was dropped from the team… No one in the world can doubt Mitchell Johnson’s character ever again.

He’s as tough a cricketer as I’ve played with, to be able to come back from the criticism he’s faced, to be dropped at an older age and have the attitude and hunger to say, ‘No, I’m not going to give up’… Credit to him. He deserves the accolades.

On Australia’s aggression

I think it’s not only Mitch, the whole team have shown aggression. The batsmen were aggressive and Brad Haddin is a great example. He has shown a great character and positive attitude throughout the series. All the batsmen showed that attitude.

On what were the plans

The bowlers were ready before the start of the series… We had discussions and specific plans for each and every batsmen. We had decided that once the No. 8, 9, 10, 11 walks in to bat, we will go hard at them, and mostly it’s going to be short-pitched stuff. We had set plans for individual batsmen even before a ball was bowled in this series. Most importantly, the boys executed that plan. You can have plans, but you need to have the skill and courage to execute those plans. To me, we have the greatest bowling attack in the world and we have showed that over the course of the five Test matches.

On the first Test, in Brisbane

The win in the Brisbane Test was the greatest part of the Test series. After winning the first match in Gabba, the boys were really confident of a win and some aggressive cricket pulled off a win even though there were some rains. The momentum was there in our legs and I am glad that the momentum lasted five Test matches.

On England

I have respect for Alastair and his England team. They have a very successful team. They have a lot of brilliant players and I am sure they will bounce back.