Clarke hails battling Australia

Salisbury Journal: Michael Clarke said Australia's bowlers deserved a lot of credit for helping to seal victory in Melbourne Michael Clarke said Australia's bowlers deserved a lot of credit for helping to seal victory in Melbourne

Australia delighted captain Michael Clarke by showing significant resilience to turn a losing position in Melbourne into another crushing Ashes victory after all.

Clarke's team have unexpectedly dominated England throughout this winter's series and duly went 4-0 up with an eight-wicket win at the MCG.

The Australia captain was not about to fuel conjecture about the possibility of completing a 5-0 whitewash in Sydney next week, after Chris Rogers (116) and Shane Watson (83no) had made light of a target of 231.

But he was full of praise for his winning collective, who conceded a first-innings deficit but still eased home again in the end with more than four sessions to spare.

"That was probably the greatest challenge for this team," said Clarke.

"I think for the first time in this series, we were behind in a Test match - and we had to find a way to claw our way back into it.

"We let ourselves down with the bat - certainly our top six batters didn't bat as well as we would have liked in the first innings."

Mitchell Johnson was then to the fore again, alongside off-spinner Nathan Lyon this time, as England collapsed in their second innings.

Rogers and Brad Haddin, who passed 50 for the fifth time in the series from number seven to narrow England's mid-match lead, were also key performers.

"Our bowlers deserve a lot of credit," added Clarke.

"We experienced some deserved criticism for our poor (first-innings) batting performance, and the way our bowlers were able to turn it around - knocking them over for 179 - and the way we batted today, you see the real positive sides of this team."

Victory number four was particularly pleasing for Clarke, not just because Australia had to dig a little deeper but after they proved they will not let up even though the Ashes are already in the bag.

"I think it's a very special win for a number of reasons, (starting with) the fact that a lot of people thought we would come here complacent and not have the same willpower to continue to play the same way as in the first three Tests," he said.

"We've had our ups and downs. There is no doubt that the winning feeling is back in our camp. That's the way we are playing at the moment."

Clarke was always confident of victory on day four, but had anticipated there might have been a little more drama first.

"Today could have gone any two ways," he added.

"We could have just got over the line.

"But I think, because the boys have so much confidence in their own ability and in the work they have been putting in, we ended up winning quite convincingly today."

Johnson was not required for the victory push - having played his part already with an eight-wicket match haul.

He lost his cool on the third afternoon when, with gusty winds already regularly interrupting play, he had to pull out of his run-up because Kevin Pietersen was distracted by movement behind the arm.

Johnson stopped and hurled the ball, in Pietersen's general direction but harmlessly wide of the batsman.

"I don't think I took it too far - I was getting annoyed at what he was doing," said the fast bowler, who has taken 31 wickets in the series.

"He kept pulling away.

"I did find out later that there was a little kid crawling across the sightscreen.

"But you look at the size of the sightscreen - they're pretty big here.

"If you're not watching the game and you're too busy watching the crowd, then I think it was warranted."

Johnson, more than anyone, has shocked England - and their travelling support - with his unerring accuracy, as well as his pace, in this campaign.

Three years ago, he was the butt of many English jokes in the crowd and the subject of their tuneful mockery.

Only last summer, he was deemed surplus to requirements as Australia lost the Ashes for a third successive time.

"You still hear the chants from the Barmy Army - the support they're throwing towards England has been amazing," he said.

"So you always hear the songs.

"But there's definitely no (self) doubts there. I know what I need to do, and I'm confident in that."

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