Australia v England, 5th ODI, Brisbane January 30, 2011

Clarke lauds team effort in series win

Michael Clarke has praised his players for their sudden turnaround following the Ashes after their comprehensive win over England at the Gabba secured an unassailable 4-1 lead. Instead of being overwhelmed by the scale of the Test losses, the limited-overs players have regrouped so quickly that the final two games will be dead rubbers.

"After a pretty tough start to the summer, losing the Ashes, I think it shows a lot of courage for us to come back and play well throughout the series," Clarke said. "I think it was a great performance from the whole group, everyone contributed."

Clarke's 54, his highest score of the series, set up Australia's 249, a total which seemed small until the attack knocked over the tourists' main men by the 26th over. Clarke said the bowling of John Hastings (2 for 35) and Steven Smith (1 for 29) effectively shut down England's chase.

The pair was responsible for ruining England's middle order when the visitors lost Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan and Ian Bell for eight runs and fell to 6 for 105. "John Hastings and Steve Smith probably won us the game with that partnership," Clarke said. "They worked together, certain guys wanted to bowl to certain batters, so they communicated really well and did a great job."

Brett Lee was also impressive early, taking two wickets as England fell to 3 for 22. "Brett has been a wonderful bowler for a long time," Clarke said. "His execution throughout this series has been spot-on, but I think he feels he can get better. He probably feels he's bowling okay at the moment but has work to do before the World Cup - as we all do."

Australia are now in a relatively healthy position heading towards the tournament, which starts in three weeks. The only setback for them came with another hamstring injury to Shaun Marsh, who suffered badly with similar problems last summer.

Clarke said the injury was minor, but Marsh is due to undergo a scan on Monday to determine whether the side requires a replacement for Wednesday's sixth game in Sydney. Marsh is not in the World Cup squad but is the leading contender to replace Michael Hussey if he fails to recover from hamstring surgery.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of ESPNcricinfo

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