• Clarke targets Proteas next

    Australia captain Michael Clarke said his next target after winning the World Cup in his last one-day international on Sunday was to take his team back to the top of the Test rankings.

    Clarke hit 74 as Australia defeated New Zealand by seven wickets in a one-sided final in front of a record crowd of 93,013 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

    Australia bowled out the Black Caps for 183 and then galloped to victory in the 34th over to win one-day cricket’s showpiece event for the fifth time, with this World Cup triumph their first on home soil.

    The 33-year-old Clarke, who announced his retirement from the one-day international format on the eve of the final, added 112 runs for the third wicket with his likely successor Steve Smith, who made an unbeaten 56 and struck the winning boundary.

    Australia are currently second in the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings, six ratings points behind South Africa.

    But leaving the 50-over format will give Clarke – whose career has been blighted by back and hamstring problems – an opportunity to concentrate on the five-day game.

    ‘My next task is to try and get Australia back to the number one position in Tests,’ he told reporters after Sunday’s match.

    ‘We have a busy period ahead with tours of the West Indies and then on to England for the Ashes.

    ‘I hope my retirement from one-day cricket will prolong my Test career. I am only 33 and hope I have a few more years left in the game.’

    Clarke said he had not made up his mind about playing in various Twenty20 leagues around the world due to his Test commitments.

    ‘I have not thought about playing in the T20 leagues,’ he said. ‘I just wanted to concentrate on the World Cup. Now that it is over, I will get time to think over it.

    ‘But I am very excited about Test cricket. I don’t want to rush to any decisions about other things.’

    Clarke scored 7,981 runs at an average of more than 44 including eight centuries and a best of 130 in his 245 one-day internationals.

    He added signing off from the shorter format by winning the World Cup was the ideal way for him to bow out of ODI cricket.

    ‘There are no such things as fairytales in sport but this is as close as it gets,’ he said.

    ‘There was a lot of pressure and expectation playing in front of our own crowds. But the boys soaked up that pressure well. Mentally we were ready for the final.’

    Clarke praised his bowling unit after the left-arm pace trio of Mitchell Starc, James Faulkner and Mitchell Johnson shared eight wickets on Sunday to set up the emphatic victory.

    ‘Our bowlers won us the World Cup. There is no doubt that Starc deserved the man of the series award for his 22 wickets. Starc and the whole bowling unit have done a great job.

    ‘Our bowling in every single game has been exceptional. I think being aggressive and going for wickets was a good strategy. If there are wickets in hand, the last 15 overs can be very destructive. So it’s better to take wickets and not just restrict the runs.’

    Clarke complimented New Zealand, whose unbeaten tournament run of eight consecutive victories ahead of the final included a one-wicket pool-stage win over Australia in Auckland, saying they were worthy finalists.

    ‘New Zealand deserve credit for the way they played in the World Cup,’ he said.

    ‘I wish them good luck for the future. But it was to be our day today.’