By Dave Clark
Michael Clarke basked in the winning feeling after Australia put three successive Ashes defeats behind them to regain the urn.
By wrapping up a third successive comprehensive Test win at the WACA today, the hosts moved 3-0 ahead in the series with two games to play.
For Clarke, that meant a first Ashes triumph as captain was completed in his 100th Test appearance.
However, the skipper was unsurprisingly keen to deflect the attention on to his team – all of whom have stepped up at some point in the rubber.
“We went through what England are feeling now in England (during the Investec Ashes) but we've now got our earned reward. (The feeling is) 10 out of 10; it doesn't get much better,” he said. “The team performance has been exceptional.
“Every day I get to see the work that these guys put in to make it happen and that’s what’s so special.”
Clarke’s target now is to help seal a 5-0 whitewash, with the long-term aim guiding Australia to the summit of the world game.
“Our goal is to get back to being the number-one team in the world,” he added. “No doubt we'll celebrate hard tonight and enjoy it – we deserve that – but we've got two more Test matches. We'd love to win 5-0 in this series.
“I think for the guys in the changing room to feel this – I don't think you’ll find one bloke who doesn’t say that this is the pinnacle, winning the Ashes.
“That’s always been the pinnacle for an Australian cricketer. Test cricket is the pinnacle of the game and the boys in the changing room deserve to have this feeling – we’ll make sure it lasts a long time tonight.”
Fittingly it was England’s chief destroyer Mitchell Johnson who took three of the five wickets required today, including dismissing James Anderson to secure the series, and Clarke was full of praise for the left-arm quick.
Johnson has come in for criticism in previous Ashes series, but has taken 23 wickets in the first three Tests with some explosive short spells.
“Mitch has known his role from the start of this series,” said Clarke. “Credit to the other guys; they’ve played a big part to allow Mitch to bowl the way he’s bowled.
“He’s got skill, he’s got natural variation. Throughout his career he has been used in different situations and he’s been happy to bowl in short spells and maximise his pace.”