Windies win a pre-Ashes boost for Clarke

The Ashes. The two words Michael Clarke didn’t want his team to speak about during their two-Test tour of the Caribbean.

Worried his team might lose their focus and worry more about England than the West Indies, Clarke says he made it crystal clear he didn’t want any talk about the Poms over the past month.

Now, having wrapped up a 2-0 series victory over the hapless hosts with a 277-run thrashing inside four days at Jamaica’s Sabina Park, Clarke is officially letting the Ashes build-up begin.

“I’d be lying to say it hasn’t been in the back of everyone’s mind but the fact we’ve been really disciplined on playing really good cricket in these conditions against this West Indies team is a really good achievement from the boys,” Clarke said.

“We’re all excited about what lies ahead. I’ve spoken a lot about consistency away from home, I just hope this is the start of it.”

Australia couldn’t have asked for a better Ashes warm-up than their two matches against a young and outclassed Windies side.

After winning the first Test inside three days by 10 wickets, the victory at Kingston was just as comprehensive.

Needing seven wickets to wrap up the win, the tourists claimed 5-56 in the morning session on day four before securing the series midway through the afternoon session.

Steve Smith’s first innings 199 earned him man of the match honours while Josh Hazlewood, who took 2-18 in the second innings to finish with seven wickets in the match, was named as player of the series.

Hazlewood ended the series with 12 wickets at an amazing 8.83 per scalp but Mitchell Starc (10 at 16), Mitchell Johnson (8 at 18.62) and Nathan Lyon (8 at 19.25) also ended the series with averages under 20.

Clarke says there’s no doubt the performance in the Caribbean will be a boost heading into the English summer.

“Confidence is a vital part of any team and any squad,” he said.

“You have to earn that though. It takes a lot of hard work to feel you can walk out onto a ground in an international game and have success and once you get it you want it to stay forever so you’ve got to ride that wave for as long as you can.

“At the moment if guys aren’t bowling as well as they’d like or making as many runs as they’d like somebody else is stepping up and I think that’s where we’re having success at the moment.”

Australia will depart Jamaica on Tuesday (Wednesday AM AEST) with the first tour match of the Ashes campaign against Kent to start on June 25.

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