Consistency key to 4th consecutive WC quest
Bangalore: Their confidence sky high after drubbing England, Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke on Saturday said consistency would be the key when his team begins chasing a record fourth consecutive World Cup starting February 19.
Clarke, who returned to form in the seven-match One-day series against England after a disappointing Ashes campaign, said to win ICC`s showpiece event, Australia need to play as a unit.
"Our ODI form has been pretty consistent over the last 12 months. We have really played some pretty good cricket and it was great to win the ODI series against England. We can take a lot of confidence out of that especially after the tough start to the summer we had," Clarke said during an open media session here today.
"Our team is a lot different to what was there in 2007 but the guys are playing some good one-day cricket off late and we are confident that if we can continue to play the way we did throughout the summer, we can have a really good crack in this tournament," he said.
"We have got very good individual players in our side. We have got lot of talent in our side but to win the World Cup the team must play together. It`s not individual brilliance, it`s about the team performing consistently throughout the tournament.
"To win such a tournament you have to be at your best all throughout and it will decide the winner of this World Cup," the 29-year-old right-hander added.
Conceding that conditions will favour slower bowlers in the World Cup, Clarke said Australia has a fair amount of experience of playing in the sub-continent.
"I think the wickets are going to be pretty slow, similar to what was there in the West Indies. One good thing is that we are playing this tournament in the sub-continent as many guys in our team are experienced of playing in these conditions because of IPL, Champions League Twenty20 and international duties," he said.
He also said that Australia has very good slow bowling options if not a quality attack and if required, he will chip in with his left-arm spinners.
"We have got a few good spinners in Jason Krejza, Steven Smith. Jason has had a lot of success in the sub-continent.
But if I am required to bowl I will look forward to that. I enjoy bowling anywhere in the world especially in these conditions," Clarke said.
He also said that inspite of some injury setbacks -? Mike Hussey and Nathan Hauritz — Australia came into the tournament with a well-balanced side.
"We have Cameron White, David Hussey and probably Steven Smith. They have shown that they have the power to clear the fences. With the fast outfield and good wickets chasing eight runs an over is quite gettable in the last 10 overs these days," Clarke said.
"I think we have a very good opening combination in (Shane) Watson and (Brad) Haddin because both can play positively and bat very well together. The combination has been successful for a while now," Clarke viewed.
"Our four fast bowlers will be important for us. Brett Lee has been a wonderful bowler and has been successful for Australia for a long time. So, his experience is going to be certainly needed in these conditions. John Hastings and Watson can provide that variation and change of pace in the middle overs. We tried to cover as many bases as possible," he added.
Clarke himself would be a key batsman for Australia against the spinners, which he thinks will rule the roost in the sub-continent pitches.
"Spinners will definitely play a big part in these conditions throughout the World Cup and it`s important that I do play well against the spin bowling. I guess I have had some success against spin in the past. But it`s important for all of us to adapt and adjust in different pitches and against different teams and bowlers. It`s important to play well as a batting unit against spin bowling," he said.
He also refused to take the two warm-up games lightly and said Australia will go out there to win both the matches, the first of which is against India here tomorrow.
"I think it`s great to play as much cricket in these conditions before the first game in the tournament. We are playing two very good teams in India and South Africa and we want to win both the games. Every time we take the field we want to win," he insisted.
Meanwhile, David Hussey, who is a vital cog in Australia`s ODI scheme of things, said the series against England has helped him gain in confidence.
"The one-day series against England is sort of a breakthrough series for me. I really enjoyed it. I had little bit of success but what was more satisfying that we won the series convincingly. I also enjoyed bowling in the ODI format," he said.
He also said he is under pressure to perform in the World Cup in the absence of his experienced brother Mike, who has been ruled out due to a hamstring injury.
"Every time you play for Australia there is lots of pressure involved and playing in the World is pressure intense. What I am looking forward to is not to disappoint Mike. He will be watching us play back from Perth and I am sure he will be supporting us," David said.