Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke

Captain Michael Clarke has acknowledged his side is still far from the finished product as it prepares for one the biggest years in Australia's Test history.

The Australians finished the summer with three wins against Sri Lanka and a loss and two draws against powerful South Africa.

They now gear up for away series against India and England followed by a home Ashes series.

It's an unprecedented challenge for an Australian Test side, particularly one still coming to grips with the dual retirements of mainstays Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey.

Asked where he felt his team stood, Clarke responded: "I think what you've seen of the Australian cricket team this summer sums up where we're at.

"On our good days we're very good and we can cut it with the best - the No.1 team in the world in South Africa.

"But on our poor days there's a lot of areas we need to improve both individually and as a team.

"I think we are improving slowly as a group. But we know the next 12 months is huge for us.

"It's exciting and I'm looking forward to it.

"We know we've got some work to do but we're up for the challenge."

The most immediate of those challenges is combating India's spin-friendly conditions in the four-Test series beginning late next month.

Clarke's concedes a number of batsmen in his top order are still learning how to handle quality slow bowling.

"There's certainly areas where we need to continue to get better at and spin bowling's probably one of those areas," he said.

"We're going to be faced with conditions that do spin a lot.

"It's very tough to play spin bowling but there's no better place to get better than in the sub-continent."


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