The Ashes: Clarke wants to stage another good show like 2005 with Australia winning

Australia captain Michael Clarke says that the 2005 series 'introduced me to what Ashes cricket is'.
Australia captain Michael Clarke says that the 2005 series 'introduced me to what Ashes cricket is'.
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Michael Clarke might have been on the losing side in the 2005 Ashes, but the Australia captain still harbours good memories of that memorable summer a decade on.

Clarke is the last man standing from the Baggy Green side that surrendered an 18-year grip on the urn to Michael Vaughan, Andrew Flintoff et al in a series that many view as the greatest ever between the old rivals.

Defeat stung and he also came out on the losing side on the 2009 and 2013 tours of England, but the 34-year-old has fond enough memories of his first Ashes to crave a repeat.

“I think 2005 is one of my most special Test match series,” said Clarke on the eve of the series opener in Cardiff.

“It introduced me to what Ashes cricket is. It showed me how tough the cricket is.

“The way the series was built up and the way it was played was exceptional. I would love to see similar cricket this time.

“I would love to see the people of England get right behind the series, and the people from back home to be glued to their television sets.

“Any competitive series like that is great for the game. Part of our role as players is to entertain and perform and put on a good show. I’d like the result to be a little bit different, but I thought it was a fantastic series.”

One of the defining images a decade ago was of Flintoff consoling Brett Lee after England’s unforgettably tense win at Edgbaston.

Flintoff’s actions were roundly applauded as epitomising the spirit of cricket, though Ashes contests have not always been so cordial.

Clarke was caught by a stump microphone in the 2013-14 whitewash of England warning James Anderson to “get ready for a broken f*****g arm” – a low moment amid many gutter-level verbals emanating from both sides.

The question of sledging has been widely debated in the build-up to the forthcoming Tests, with Anderson suggesting he would like a more respectful tone similar to that enjoyed by England and New Zealand in recent weeks. Australia seem unlikely to take a backward step in that regard, but Clarke will insist nobody goes too far.

“I’d like to see the individual players play their best cricket and to some players that I’ve been fortunate enough to play with through my career it helped their game, they see benefit in that,” he said.

“As long as those players understand there’s a line you can’t overstep then they know what they have to do to get the best out of themselves and that’s what’s important for the team to have success.

“The way we’ve been brought up is to play tough competitive cricket on the field, but I certainly understand the respect, the rules and regulations of our game and where that line sits.

“I’ve made it very clear in the last series that if somebody overstepped that mark it was me and as captain of this team I need to be more disciplined and I know I will be.’’

Mitchell Johnson ruined England with 37 wickets Down Under, intimidating batsmen more decisively with actions than words could ever manage.

His record since then may be slightly less stellar, but Clarke insists his strike bowler is gunning for English scalps again.

“He’s bowling as fast as I’ve faced in the nets and the harder thing is that he’s swinging it,” said Clarke.

“If he can bowl the way he has bowled since we’ve landed in this country, I think he will have a huge impact.”