CA decisions a minor distraction, says Clarke
Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, has admitted the Argus review and the decisions taken by Cricket Australia on Friday were a minor distraction in the lead-up to the fourth ODI but praised his side for displaying excellent character in difficult conditions to take the series against Sri Lanka. The removal of Andrew Hilditch as chief selector was one of the significant decisions taken on Friday, but Clarke said his team-members made a pact they weren't going to talk about it going into the match.
"No doubt it [the events on Friday] is some sort of a distraction but you face distractions everyday in your life; with what's happening with your family, some of them have kids," Clarke said after Australia beat Sri Lanka by five wickets to take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series. "There are always issues outside of the game that you face as a distraction. It's up to us to determine how big a distraction it becomes. We left our meeting the other day and made a pact that we weren't going to talk about it. We had an optional training session yesterday that every single player turned up for."
It looked like being a comfortable win for Australia after they bowled out Sri Lanka for 132, but Clarke said it took quite an effort to overcome the heat and was full of praise for his bowlers. "The character the boys showed in conditions that were as hot as I've experienced in any ODI around the world and to put in that kind of performance with the ball [was great].
"We didn't get wickets at the start of their innings but we bowled with really good discipline and in good areas. The wicket was a little bit two-paced and I thought our patience was the key with the ball today. It's been a key to our success over here; we've got Sri Lanka out on three occasions."
Australia lost five wickets in the chase, including three in an over towards the end of the game, and Clarke singled out Shaun Marsh's fluent 70 as the decisive contribution. "We knew the new ball would skid off the pitch and that with the old ball, they would get some reverse-swing and a bit of spin as well. Shaun Marsh played outstandingly and chased those runs down on his own in those conditions."
The star for Australia in their bowling was left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty, who bagged four wickets and was named Man of the Match. "After not taking as many wickets as I would have liked earlier on in the series, it was good to get some today," Doherty said.
"X is a very hard marker on himself and he's done a magnificent job for us," Clarke said. "Part of our success here has been the partnerships from the bowlers. Sometimes you bowl beautifully and get no wickets, but your mate at the other end does. On a couple of occasions this series, that's what has happened to X.
"If he keeps bowling the way he's bowling, I see no reason why he can't play Test cricket for Australia."