Clarke defends embattled Cook

Michael Clarke (AFP)
Michael Clarke (AFP)

Perth - Australian captain Michael Clarke defended his embattled English counterpart Alastair Cook after winning the third Test to regain the Ashes at the WACA Ground on Tuesday.

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Clarke, beaten 3-0 in England just months ago, said he had plenty of empathy for Cook, who faced questions in the post-match press conference about both his leadership and his form with the bat.

"I know what Alastair feels like at the moment," Clarke said.

"You know, it wasn't that long ago that I sat in the same position."

Both Clarke and Cook reached their 100-Test milestone in the third Test. But it was a forgettable experience for the English skipper, who scored the first golden duck of his career and then lost an Ashes series as captain for the first time.

"Test cricket is extremely hard and I know what it feels like to sit on the other side and not get the result you want," Clarke said.

"But that doesn't mean that you haven't got the best players there, that doesn't mean you haven't got the best captain there."

Clarke said he had great respect for Cook, who suffered his first series loss as skipper, and for his English team.

He said criticism of the England captain, particularly in the English media, was wide of the mark.

"I think Alastair Cook is a fantastic leader to play 100 Test matches and have the record that he has, I think he deserves a lot of recognition," he said.

"From my personal experience, I believe Alastair Cook is a wonderful player and a very good captain and I certainly don't believe he deserves the criticism that I've read in the last few days, nor do the England team.

"You know, they outplayed us two months ago in the UK.

"I don't think it's fair for someone who's played 100 Test matches, to judge his career or his captaincy on three Tests in Australia.

"I don't personally think that's a fair indication for someone that has been a fantastic player for England over a long period of time."

Cook took over from Andrew Strauss in 2012 and has lost just four of his 19 Tests in charge, three of those in this series.

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