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Clarke's focus turns to Test dominance

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Michael Clarke will soak up a dream ODI swansong for a little while longer, but the desire to lead Australia’s Test side onto greater things is as strong as ever.

The 15-man squad that piloted Australia to their fifth one-day title will enjoy a public celebration at Melbourne’s Federation Square on Monday.

But attention will soon turn to upcoming Test tours of West Indies and England, with a squad announcement expected on Tuesday.

The chance to win an Ashes series in England for the first time since 2001 is obviously the priority for Cricket Australia.

But the goal of reclaiming top spot on the ICC’s Test ranking is also at the forefront of Clarke’s mind, with retirement far from his thoughts.

“Now I want to enjoy this moment,” Clarke said.

“By walking away from the one-day game, hopefully it will prolong my Test career.

“But I’ve got to perform and I’ve got to win games for Australia.

“That’s my goal.

“If I can help the team get back to No.1 and have success in our next few tours and back in Australia, then I’ll assess after that.”

Clarke pointed out he was “only 33” and felt he still had “plenty of time left” in an international career that started in 2003.

“Performance will dictate that. I’ve got to be making runs. I’ve got to be enjoying it,” he said.

“When the time is right, though, I’ll make sure I’m gone.

“I don’t want to stand in any player’s way. If I can’t help the team have success, then my time is up.”

Clarke noted he would use the free time created by his ODI retirement to spend more time with his family and look at some business ventures outside cricket.

The veteran has been linked to Big Bash League franchise Melbourne Stars, but Clarke suggested Australia’s World Cup campaign had stopped him from thinking too much about a Twenty20 stint.

“Now that the World Cup is over, I’ll have some time to have a think about what I want to do there.” Clarke said.

“I don’t want to rush away from this feeling right now and this moment. I want to enjoy it over the next few days.”

Clarke could think of no better way to end his ODI career than winning a World cup on home soil.

“There’s no such thing as fairytales in sport, but that’s probably as close as it gets for me,” he said.

World Cup final: match report

Australia crushed New Zealand in Sunday’s World Cup final, wrapping up a fifth ODI title with seven wickets in hand and 101 balls to spare.

Michael Clarke top-scored for Australia with 74 in his 245th and final ODI.

From the moment Brendon McCullum was dismissed for a duck in the opening over at the MCG, the trans-Tasman tussle was on Australia’s terms.

Grant Elliott’s plucky 83 pushed the Blackcaps to a total of 183, their innings ending after 45 overs and a woeful collapse of 7-33.

McCullum’s aggression remained unchecked, with the New Zealand skipper employing four slips early and Trent Boult’s opening spell lasting seven overs.

But the visitors simply didn’t have anywhere near enough runs to play with.

Outgoing ODI captain Clarke and Steve Smith, the man widely tipped to be his successor, shared a classy 112-run stand.

Clarke and Smith were in the middle when the hosts eased past the halfway mark of their chase in the 19th over.

The pair remained there until Clarke was bowled by Matt Henry when the victory equation was nine runs from 19 overs.

He’s been a terrific ODI player for a long time,” Smith said of Clarke.

“I just wish he was out there with me until the end. I was just saying `Pup, Pup – stay with me!’. Unfortunately he got out.”

Smith brought up the winning runs by pulling Henry to the fence, with his teammates charging onto the field in celebration and a record crowd of 93,013 getting to their feet.

“The bowlers really set it up for us on a great wicket,” Smith said, having starred in every knockout game the Australians played.

The result means Australia have won four of the past five World Cups, with a quarter-final exit in 2011 the only blemish in the stretch.

McCullum won the toss but fell victim to a superb in-dipper from Mitchell Starc, who finished with two scalps to be the World Cup’s leading wicket-taker alongside Boult on 22 victims.

New Zealand stumbled to 3-39 in the 13th over, with dangermen Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson back in the sheds after tame dismissals to Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Johnson respectively.

Elliott, the hero of his side’s dramatic win over South Africa in their semi-final, stepped up under immense pressure again.
This time he received scant support from teammates.

The Johannesburg-born batsman shared a 111-run stand with Ross Taylor, the pair knuckling down particularly well in a two-over spell from Starc.

Taylor’s dismissal, engineered by James Faulkner but completed thanks to a diving one-handed catch from Brad Haddin, was the beginning of the end.

Elliott’s run-a-ball knock was not without luck.

The 36-year-old was on 15 when he was trapped lbw by Maxwell in the 20th over.

However, umpire Kumar Dharmasena’s decision was overturned when ball-tracking technology suggested it had turned sharply and was going to miss leg stump.

The right-hander eventually fell to Faulkner, who claimed three wickets to be Australia’s leading wicket-taker in the final alongside Johnson.

McCullum, Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi and Henry all failed to get off the mark – thanks to a mix of poor batting and potent bowling.

– AAP

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