Clarke returned home on Friday after leading the Australians to an epic 2-1 series win over the Proteas’ in South Africa to cement their status as the second team in world cricket behind South Africa.
Clarke said despite their supremacy over South Africa in the recent series, his side would be foolish to consider themselves the best team in Test cricket and said the job was far from done.
If Australia defeat Pakistan and India in Test series later this year, they could be the ICC’s top-ranked side.
“I think South Africa have well and truly earned that mantle and that doesn’t come lightly,” Clarke told reporters at Sydney Airport.
“You’ve got to have success over a long period of time and they’ve (the Proteas) done that.
“We’re playing some really good cricket and I think we’re improving as a team but there’s a long way to go before we will consider ourselves the number one team in the world.”
Clarke predicted that Australia would take home their first World Twenty20 crown in Bangladesh in March-April.
Australia have never won the tournament, but Clarke is confident they can carry on from the Test series wins over England and South Africa and take the world T20 title.
“I think they can. I think they’ll be led extremely well by George Bailey. He’s captained the Twenty20 team exceptionally well for a while now,” he said.
“I think the confidence the Test players will take out of this series and bring into the Twenty20 team will certainly help as well. So I’m backing the boys. I’m really confident they’ll win the Twenty20 World Cup.”
Ace paceman Mitchell Johnson will be rested from Australia’s three-match T20 series against South Africa, starting on Sunday in Port Elizabeth.
Johnson will link up with the national T20 squad next week in Bangladesh for the World Twenty20, having been given extra time to rest after a long summer of success.
The left-armer claimed 22 wickets at an average of 17.36 in the three-Test series with the Proteas, which followed his 37 English scalps at 13.97 to be man of the Ashes series.