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24th-28th May: 2nd Test, Headingley
Australian captain Michael Clarke haspaid tribute to South Africa's performance during the Test series, which the Proteas won 1-0 following a 309-run win in the final Test in Perth.
Clarke scored a double-century in the series opener in Brisbane but saw his side only able draw the opening two matches, and South Africa were able to take advantage at the WACA.
"I don't want to take anything away from South Africa, they showed why they're the number one Test team in the world but on the other hand I want to pay credit to the Australian boys to be able to fight it out and stay strong up until this Test match," he said following the game.
"I think what South Africa certainly showed us is when they had momentum they ran with it for as long as they could, and when they didn't they did everything in there power to grab it back. They certainly outplayed us in this third Test.
"There a probably a few occasions in this series where we had momentum and didn't run with it for long enough, that's for sure, and against the best teams you can't do that. I think throughout the series we probably missed oppotunities along the way as well, dropping a few too many catches, and again you can't afford to do that against such great players."
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Clarke faced questions about why Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle weren't selected but he made it clear that they weren't fit to play and in any case, he lays any blame for this defeat at the door of his batsmen, who made just 163 in the first innings.
"I've made it clear if Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus were fit, they would of played in this Test match. We can talk about rotation as much as we like but the fact was they were not 100% fit to take part, hence the changes.
"I don't want to take anything away from the bowlers. I thought they bowled really well in the first innings and on a flat wicket in the second innings. I believe the reason we didn't win this Test match, or give ourselves the best chance, is because of the way we batted in our first innings."
Like so many others, Clarke had plenty of praise for Ricky Ponting, who retired following the match, playing the last of his 168 Tests for Australia at the same venue where he started back in 1995.
"I don't think it had an effect on why we didn't play as well as we wanted to this Test match," Clarke said of the attention surrounding Ponting's final game.
"The one thing I've said about Ricky for a long period of time is it's not just about what he gives a team on the field it's what he offers off the field, around training sessions or in the changing rooms.
"His help, advice and guidance is something that cannot be replaced, so no doubt he is going to be missed. I think the game will miss, 168 test matches and too many ODIs to remember, what a player he has been, he deserves all the accolades he's receieved over the last 5 days.
"I think it's important that Cricket Australia do everything in their power to keep him involved, he still has so much to offer the game, whether it's as a player or not."
Australia now have a little time to regroup ahead of the opening Test against Sri Lanka, which begins in Brisbane on 15th December.
© Cricket World 2012
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