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Clarke targets Ashes whitewash as Aussies gun for No 1
 
 
 

MELBOURNE - Michael Clarke vowed Tuesday to lead an all-out assault on England as Australia go for a 5-0 Ashes series triumph, targeting the top spot in Test cricket. "People have been asking me how we're going to approach the Boxing Day Test after already winning back the Ashes," skipper Clarke wrote in his Tuesday column for The Telegraph.
"The answer is easy - full throttle," he said in what the daily called the "blueprint for Ashes whitewash". "Momentum is a rare and precious commodity. When you have it you run with it as hard as you can because you're never sure how long it will last." Clarke has taken Australia to victory in the opening three Tests, ending England's recent Ashes dominance.
"Now that we're starting to win again it would be silly to take our foot off the gas," he said. Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin said the team were preparing in the same fighting spirit as the previous Tests despite having clinched the series. "You never take a Test match for granted, I've never played in a dead rubber and that's from the bottom of my heart," he said.
"I don't think the feeling in the group's changed since we came together in Brisbane. We've had a clear goal of what we wanted to do as a team and that hasn't changed." Haddin said the team's plans had always looked beyond the Ashes to cementing the top spot in Test cricket. "We want to challenge ourselves to be the best cricketers we can be as a group, and we hope that end result's to be number one in the world," he said.
"That's the path we want to take and a lot of hard work has to go into that. At the moment we're doing all of the right things to do that." Australia are currently in fifth place in the ICC's Test rankings, while England are two places above them in third behind leaders South Africa and India. Australia are due to tour South Africa in February and March with Haddin saying that trip would be a "true test" of their current winning form.
"You want to play the best, you're not going to get to number one hiding away and not playing. You've got to beat the best obviously here in our backyard but in theirs as well." The fourth Test against England meanwhile starts in Melbourne on Thursday with the final leg in Sydney from January 3. "We want to show our many thousands of fans in Melbourne and Sydney the same dominant, aggressive cricket we have been able to play at near full stadiums in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth," Clarke said.
The Australian captain paid tribute to retiring off-spinner Graeme Swann and said England would miss him. "I couldn't believe it when he announced his sudden retirement," on Sunday, Clarke admitted. "England are going to miss him for a number of reasons, not just because he was a high quality spinner. He was also integral to England as a slips fieldsman with a very good set of hands and he's one of those cheerful guys who always make life in the change rooms more fun."

 
 
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