Australia v Sri Lanka, Champions Trophy, Group A, The Oval June 16, 2013

Australia focused, Clarke remains hopeful


Michael Clarke has admitted the off-field drama surrounding the Australia team has affected preparation for his side's must-win group match against Sri Lanka, but said Australia remained focused on achieving their first win of the tournament, and progressing to the semi-finals. 

Australia must defeat Sri Lanka to earn a semi-finals place, and if England win their final group match against New Zealand, they must win well enough to outdo New Zealand's net run rate. They lost their opening match to England by 48 runs, and had the second match rained out.

"The feeling in the camp has obviously been a little bit different over the past few days because there's been a little bit of disappointment in one of our players," Clarke said. "But I can guarantee you we left it there - after I did the press conference a couple of days ago now - and now we're looking forward. Our focus has been preparation for this game against Sri Lanka and staying focused on what's important.

"The rain played a part in interrupting training yesterday, but a lot of the guys came and trained indoors. The day before, we trained really well as a team, and I know all the guys are looking forward to playing against Sri Lanka tomorrow."

Clarke was uncertain if he would be available to play on Monday, but expressed confidence in George Bailey, who led the side in the first two matches. Bailey hit a fifty in each of those games, and has been a consistent middle order presence since breaking into the ODI side, having maintained an average of 46 - which improves slightly when he is leading. Clarke was ruled out of the early part of the tournament due to a flare-up of a long-standing back injury.

"I think George [Bailey] has done a great job. I think his performances over the past four months have been outstanding for us in one‑day cricket. He continues to lead from the front, and I think he's captained the team really well in my absence and will do again tomorrow if I'm unavailable to play."

"My back is feeling ok. I'll have to train today with the boys and see how I pull up tomorrow. But I'm hopeful, there's no doubt about that."

Clarke also had praise for Adam Voges, who he hoped would help add leadership and stability to what has at times been a brittle batting order. Voges hit 71 in the last match against New Zealand and averages 51.50 in 19 ODIs.

"Vogey brings a lot of experience. He's a class player and has been in first‑class cricket for a long time. His one‑day record for Australia is outstanding. So I guess he's coming in trying to fill that Michael Hussey role batting at five and six for us, but also with the experience and leadership that he brings. He's a great guy, I love having him around and it's really nice to see him batting as well as he is at the moment."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cyril on June 17, 2013, 10:50 GMT

    No rain today.A full match will be played. I live ten minutes from The Oval and studied meteorology. Trust me!

    Sri Lanka are massive favourites for this one. I understand that it will be a newly cut pitch for today that will be used again in the Semi-final. It will probably be the central wicket too, so no short boundary. This will be dead flat but will take some spin. Aussie quicks will be cannon fodder! Spin to play a big role for SL.

    Expect 300+ if SL bat first.

  • Hardeep on June 17, 2013, 10:32 GMT

    Thanks to rain, the semifinal spots are still uncertain from Group A. Calculators are OUT!

  • Reg on June 17, 2013, 10:27 GMT

    As i understand it, when calculating the NRR each OVER is given equal weighting, not each match. So it is not possible to work out how much Australia needs to win by to eliminate NZ, untill we know how many overs will be bowled. If rain interferes it will get even harder for Australia to make up the deficit. As much as i hate to admit it, even at their present low ebb Autralia looks a more likely ODI team than NZ. But we cannot be sure that NZ would not have got up in their washed out game against Australia. We just about beat England from what looked like a hopeless position. The position against Austrlai wasn't great when the rain came, but it looked far from hopeless.

  • Dummy4 on June 17, 2013, 10:27 GMT

    @frankwood...if australia needs to increse their nrr by 1.6...than their diffrence in nrr should be 3.2 in this game considering thwy already have played one of averages..make ur calculations now...though i wud like to see them win

  • Dummy4 on June 17, 2013, 9:11 GMT

    @nathan74 what a joke.u seem to be joking.u r saying " NZ must be hoping SL to lose by narrowest possible margin."and again you are saying" Though in theory there are three teams in the running for the final spot in the semis in reality there is only two teams- NZ and SL."you meant to say that AUSSIE STILL IN COMPETITION

  • Dummy4 on June 17, 2013, 9:08 GMT

    Australia will make it to the semis, then to the finals and then win the Champions Trophy yet again :)

  • soumyas on June 17, 2013, 9:05 GMT

    If Australia wins with little margin NZ will qualify, makes India's job easier to the finals.

  • Dummy4 on June 17, 2013, 8:56 GMT

    why no Cameron white? A huge huge hitter of the cricket ball and steve smith and david hussey as well are better players

  • kumara on June 17, 2013, 7:34 GMT

    @Frankwoods. Margin needs to be much higher than that. If Aus bats fist & score 300 runs, they have to restrict Srilanka to 174. On the other hand if Srilanka bats first & scores say 220 runs, Aus has to chase it down in 27 overs & 5 balls. Looks that too difficult considering the current form.

  • Frank on June 17, 2013, 6:55 GMT

    maybe my maths is wrong but as i see it australia needs +1.6 nrr from this game. say if SL bat 1st and get 230 (rr of 4.6) Australia would need to chase that down with a RR of at least 6.2, that would only be in 37 overs, that doesnt seem that hard to me.

    if we do it the other way, Australia score 260 (RR of 5.2), they would need to restrict SL to RR of 3.6, meaning bowl out SL for 180, so batting 1st theyd have to win by around 80 runs not 126.

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