Clarke digests first series loss
Australia's captain Michael Clarke is digesting the first series defeat of his reign, and its nature cannot go down easily. Clarke's team was kicked around Old Trafford as England completed a 4-0 victory, the heaviest defeat of an Australian ODI side in any bilateral series in the 41-year history of limited overs internationals.
The tourists were given still more reason to recall the tour unhappily by a hamstring injury to David Hussey, preventing him from fielding in the seven-wicket defeat. Clarke said the series reflected a wider problem in the team's limited-overs cricket over the period of his captaincy, given that it had been preceded by battling series victories over Sri Lanka and South Africa away, before a triangular series win at home and a tied encounter in the Caribbean.
However he would not countenance the result as a "wake-up call" to the national side generally, given how strongly the Test team's results had improved over Clarke's tenure. "It's a completely different team, completely different format so I don't want to compare the Test team with the one-day team," Clarke said. "It's a reminder, not a wake-up call. We knew through the Australian summer we weren't playing anywhere near as good a cricket as we needed to be against Sri Lanka and India.
"We went to the West Indies and just got over the line there so it's not like this is the first series where we haven't played as well as we'd like. Our one-day cricket hasn't been as consistent as it needs to be if we want to stay at the top of the table. Hence how close the first, second, third and fourth are on the rankings points now. We've got a lot of work to do as a one-day team."
The ODI side has been used as a way of providing opportunities for numerous players to press their claims for other formats. Some like George Bailey have shown tentative progress, but others like Peter Forrest and Steve Smith are now struggling to justify their selection, developmental or otherwise.
"It's certainly not about opportunity. We're giving plenty of guys the opportunity to grab it with both hands," Clarke said. "There's a few players that haven't experienced these conditions so that was a good taste of it. Against good opposition in international sport you've just got to find a way to win, whether it's with the bat, with the ball in the field. Good teams do that, they'll be down or they'll lose the first match of the series, but they'll find a way to turn it around, and we haven't been good enough to do that so that's an area we have to improve.
"We need to play better cricket. We need to sit down as a team and have a look at our performances over the last 12 months and areas we need to get better. It certainly wasn't preparation. I thought our training was outstanding and we played some really good cricket in the couple of warm-up games but we have no excuses.
"I think a lot of credit needs to go to England as well. They've outplayed us in all four matches, they've been very consistent, their bowlers have bowled with good patience and discipline and their batters have made runs. We haven't done both. We didn't have anybody make a big score as a batter, we lost a lot of early wickets throughout the series and we didn't execute our skills as well as you need to."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here