Clarke confident despite injury worries
Australia were given further injury headaches ahead of the World Cup after Nathan Hauritz suffered a dislocated shoulder and Shaun Tait limped out of the attack during the second one-day international against England at Hobart.
Hauritz's injury is the more serious of the two and he went straight to hospital after being helped off the outfield in clear pain following a dive to stop the ball. He will have further scans in the morning and is unlikely to take any further part in the one-day series so it could mean a hasty reprieve for Xavier Doherty, the left-arm spinner, who missed out on the World Cup squad.
Tait, meanwhile, went off five balls into his sixth over with a thigh strain that will be scanned on Saturday before any further decisions are made. The injuries add to the problems surrounding the Australia squad despite them now being 2-0 up against England after their 46-run victory. Mike Hussey is recovering from a serious hamstring injury which required surgery earlier this week and Ricky Ponting is yet to return from the broken finger he collected during the Ashes.
However, with the start of the tournament on the subcontinent still a month away Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, was hopeful that both Hauritz and Tait would be fit to take their place in the 15-man unit.
"We're confident that they'll both be alright for the World Cup," Clarke said. "It is a setback though because you want to keep playing as much cricket as you can and get as much form under your belt as possible. Anytime anyone gets injured it's a loss. They are disappointed personally, especially someone like Haury who has had to go back to first-class cricket where he's been playing really well.
"For this to happen now, I feel for him. Hopefully he'll be right for the World Cup - he'll play a big part in that."
Despite the injury blows this match continued Australia's upward curve since the end of the Ashes. They took a share of a closely fought Twenty20 series and have now taken a significant early advantage in this seven-match contest, despite twice being in trouble with the bat on 4 for 33 and 8 for 142.
They were led to a defendable total by Shaun Marsh's 110 in his first innings as cover for Hussey, having been left out of the World Cup squad. He added an Australian-record 88 for the ninth wicket with renowned tail-end rabbit Doug Bollinger, who then made up for the late absence of Hauritz and Tait with 4 for 28.
Given the batting woes the hosts have suffered this season Marsh can consider himself unfortunate not be a regular selection. "It shows we've got a lot of talent," Clarke said. "What's most pleasing for me is when you see someone come in like Shaun and get hold of his opportunity. That continues to show the depth in first-class cricket in Australia.
"I know that's been questioned this summer but I have 100 per cent belief that there is a lot of talent and good players out there. They're just looking for an opportunity and Shaun showed that tonight. We gave him his chance and he's grabbed it with both hands. He continues to do it at the international level," Clarke added. "He's performed opening the batting for Australia and he's had success down the bottom of the order.
"He's come into this game in good form, scoring runs for Western Australia and it's as good an innings as I've seen, under pressure and losing wickets around him. He really stood up today."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo