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Consistent Aussies continue progress
Australia's 2-0 series win over West Indies, capped by a 75 run victory in the third test on Friday.
Australia's 2-0 series win over West Indies, capped by a 75 run victory in the third test on Friday, was not an emphatic statement that all is well with the former world champions but it still showed Michael Clarke's team are making progress.
The 4-0 series triumph over India prior to this campaign was a clear sign Australia can dominate in familiar home conditions but winning in the Caribbean required some different qualities.
The current West Indies team, blooding young, inexperienced players, particularly in their top order batting, does not present one of the sternest tests in international cricket at the moment.
But the contemporary Caribbean surfaces, slow and turning, do offer a challenge of their own and Australia, with a number of players making their first appearance in the region, handled themselves well.
"It's been the dedication, the will to try to get better to take this team to a new level that has seen us have success," Clarke said.
"We've played against India who are a wonderful test team with a lot of very good players, we've played in conditions here that not many guys are accustomed to against a fighting West Indian team and manage not just to play well but we've won six out of seven test matches so that's something we should be very proud of," he said.
The Australians don't have the headline names that lit up some of the teams of the past - there is no intimidating opening batsman, no paceman to really strike fear into opponents and no world-class spin threat.
But there is a batting line-up that has enough quality and promise, matched with the remaining experience in Mike Hussey, Clarke and former skipper Ricky Ponting, to get enough runs, especially when helped by a tail that twice produced match-winning contributions.
The seam attack will certainly enjoy better fortune on more favourable surfaces while spinner Nathan Lyon shows real promise.
Behind the sticks, Matthew Wade, who kept well and made a key century in the third test, showed himself to be an able alternative to Brad Haddin who had to sit out the series.
No player will head home having had such an outstanding tour that will define their career, but Clarke will look around the airplane and struggle to find a player who hasn't made a key contribution at some stage.
"Individually players mightn't have performed as well as they would have liked but as a team we still got the result done and I think that's a really good sign of a great team," Clarke said.
"I've said for a long time that the focus is the team having success, the team winning games of cricket and unfortunately in this game you can't always perform individually.
"You're going to have down times and you're not going to make as many runs as you'd like or take as many wickets as you can but if you can help contribute to the team's success then you play a big part in this team. I think we've done that throughout this series.".
Clarke now heads off to the Indian Premier League and Australia as a team will focus on the shorter forms of the game until November's home tests against South Africa.
And while Clarke himself acknowledges they are still some way from recapturing the top ranking in test cricket, he can feel well satisfied with the progress made under his maturing captaincy.
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