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