Sydney: Australia captain Michael Clarke says his decision to retire from T20 cricket at the start of 2011 has made him a better player in the longer formats of the game.
Clarke had a dream Sydney Test, scoring a monumental 329 not out, taking the prized wicket of Sachin Tendulkar and captaining Australia to an emphatic win over India to go 2-0 up in the series.
Since becoming captain and retiring from T20, Clarke has amassed 819 Test runs at an average of 68.25 and hit four hundreds.
"The greatest thing about the Twenty20 competitions is it is very individual, each individual player has the opportunity to make his own decision, and I think the T20 in Australia has been outstanding," Clarke said.
"I think I made the right decision to stand down from T20 cricket internationally and to focus on my one-day and Test cricket. I really thought I had to improve my game, to try to become the player I want to be, to become the best player I can possibly be."
"I don`t know what my results say or my statistics over the last 12 months, but I feel my game is better now than it was 12 months ago, that is for sure."
Clarke took the captaincy from Ricky Ponting for the Sri Lanka tour in August. He led the team to a 1-0 win in the island nation followed by the drawn series against South Africa and New Zealand.
Clarke feels the added responsibility has not come in the way of his batting.
"Captaincy has probably put a bit of extra responsibility on me, but I don`t feel like I have changed my game," Clarke said.
"I guess what I have worked on over the last 12 months is really trying hard to improve my game, facing our bowlers in the nets with brand new balls to improve my technique. Facing a lot of spin on unprepared wickets to improve my game against spin when we travel to the subcontinent," he explained.
Australia are on course to win the series against India and Clarke sees the once "invincible" unit is heading in the right direction.
"This whole team in my opinion is heading in the right direction. We have a lot of work to do, but we are heading in the right direction and I am just enjoying the opportunity to lead so many good young players."