Australia have defied general expectations of a closely-fought contest this winter by hammering England three times to regain the urn before Christmas.
After their latest win – by the smallest margin yet, of ‘only’ 150 runs at the WACA – Clarke was careful to pay due respect not just to Ricky Ponting’s 5-0 class of 2006/07 but also the opponents he and his team-mates had again thoroughly outplayed.
Clarke, a young middle-order batsman seven winters ago, marked his – and his opposite number Alastair Cook’s – 100th Test by leading his team to a famous victory and unassailable 3-0 lead, with two to play.
Echoing the thoughts already expressed by his wicketkeeping colleague at thesafe re-deliverance of the urn, he said: “Today, as Brad Haddin said, we brought it home.
“To get the Ashes back is so special, because of the work these guys have put in.”
“I don’t think you’ll find one bloke in that dressing room who won’t say that this is the pinnacle – playing Test cricket against England and winning the Ashes,” Clarke added.
Clarke spared a thought too for Cook. The England captain is under unaccustomed scrutiny after failing to consolidate the superiority which saw his team beat Australia 3-0 themselves, on home soil only four months ago.
Back then, it was Clarke who had to come up with all the explanations indefeat.
“I’ve read a bit of the stuff in the media back in the UK, and I know what Alastair feels like at the moment.
England were able to delay the inevitable on the final day this time, thanks to a memorable maiden international century from Ben Stokes (120).
However, they ere eventually bowled out for 353 to concede an unassailable 3-0 lead to Australia.
For Cook, the whole miserable experience is a shock to the system – after England beat Australia 3-0 at home only four months ago.
“It hurts like hell when you come into a contest and end up being second best,” he said.
“As a sportsman, to admit that is quite hard.”
Cook will have to contend with various calls for his demotion, Flower’s resignation and/or the dropping of clutch of senior players some believe are nearing the end of their sell-by date before England try to limit the damage in Melbourne’s Boxing Day Test.
“The simple fact of the matter is we haven’t had enough players in form with either bat or ball.
“You can’t put it any more honestly than that.”