Australian team still a work in progress: Michael Clarke
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Australia wrapped up a home series sweep over supine sub-continental opposition for the second season in a row on Sunday but captain Michael Clarke admits they are a work in progress as they embark on their toughest ever year of test cricket.
Fragility in the top order, the retirement of Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey from the middle order and injuries to the pace bowling unit mean there is plenty to ponder ahead of a tour to India and back-to-back Ashes series.
Clarke, ever the realist, was more than aware that any joy at the 3-0 triumph over Sri Lanka, which Australia secured at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday, had to be tempered by memory of the 1-0 defeat to South Africa that preceded it.
"It probably sums up where we are as a team," he told reporters after the five-wicket victory at the SCG.
"On our good days, we're very good and we can cut it with the best, the number one team in the world, South Africa.
"But on our poor days there's a lot of areas we need to improve, both individually and as a team, so I think what you've seen of the Australian cricket team this summer probably sums up where we're at.
"We're fighting to get better every day, that's the positive. I think we are improving slowly as a group but we know the next 12 months is huge for us.
"We've got a lot of tough cricket in conditions that are generally tough to play in, so we need to keep trying to get better."
The loss of Hussey, who retired after Sunday's victory, will probably be more keenly felt than that of Ponting, who had not been at the peak of his powers for a couple of years.
"I don't think someone will be able to come in and replace him," Clarke said of Hussey.