Australia v England, 6th ODI, Sydney February 2, 2011

Big chases prepare us for the World Cup - Clarke

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Michael Clarke believes Australia's record run chase against England was the perfect preparation for the World Cup where large totals are going to dominate the tournament. Clarke hit 82 off 70 balls as Australia reached 334 with four balls to spare in their penultimate match before leaving for the subcontinent.

"The boys are stoked. It's a huge win for us and again we can take a lot of confidence from that run chase going into the World Cup," Clarke said. "I think there's going to be some pretty big scores in the World Cup on pretty flat wickets similar to that. I think you're going to have to get used to chasing some big totals. It's great practice for us."

To make Clarke's night even sweeter his decision to promote Mitchell Johnson to No. 4 paid off as he hit 57 to keep up Australia's early momentum after a rapid opening stand. It was Johnson's second fifty in ODI cricket although Clarke admitted he hadn't quite followed his instructions to the letter.

"He was the only left-hander in our side today and I was confident that if Mitch miss hits the ball he could still get a couple over the rope," he said. "It was more a game situation, we were chasing a big total, we had to gamble and fortunately it paid off.

"If the ball was in his zone batting from the bottom end towards the short boundary I told him to back himself. Mitch thought he'd go the other way and hit towards the long boundary but he cleared the ropes. He played a really good innings through the Powerplay then rotated the strike really well in the middle when they had five fielders out."

Clarke also hinted that it may be a tactic Australia employ in the future with Johnson's ability to attack the spinners an eye-catching prospect on the subcontinent where slow bowlers are expected to play a key role.

"It shows if you give guys an opportunity they grab it with both hands. I think Mitch, throughout the World Cup, is going to play a big part not just with the ball but also the bat, being a left-hander, hitting the ball as well as he does and playing spin pretty well."

Life is suddenly looking much rosier for Clarke after back-to-back half-centuries in Brisbane and Sydney plus Australia being 5-1 up under his leadership. He also left the field to a standing ovation today as his home crowd warmed to his efforts after a difficult season. Clarke has never wavered in his belief that hard work and commitment would eventually bring results and is starting to feel vindicated.

"I've not changed my game, I've not changed my training, I feel like I've worked my absolute backside off the whole summer," he said. "It's just nice to get some runs in the last game and contribute again tonight. It's a nice feeling.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on February 3, 2011, 23:44 GMT

    RAAJ101. not just odi series, the last icc champios trophy that was played in india. that goes with every team. i hope you not thinking your team whoever that is will just stroll through

  • brisCricFan on February 3, 2011, 23:07 GMT

    LOL @ RAAJ101 - I think you don't really need to tell AUS about how the World Cup is different... just look at the last decade... One loss can knock you out?? AUS haven't lost a single match in WC since 1999... ... ... how did you guys fare over that period?? ... ... ... I will say again as I have said all along, AUS are entering as favourites mostly on the back of years of WC dominance and the punters know that AUS have a tendency to step up in the big matches when others crumble. BUT on paper, I think India, South Africa and England are a match to the current Australian side... Sri Lanka are a threat if they can click and keep it together. ... ... ... It will come down to which side is the toughest mentally and history is on the side of the AUS team at the moment. I am predicting some very close semi finals ... ... ... and the closest WC EVENT (as a whole) that there has been in over a decade.

  • RAAJ101 on February 3, 2011, 17:10 GMT

    AUSTRALIANS MAY HAVE WON SOME ODI SERIES IN INDIA. BUT I TELL YOU WHAT WORLD CUP IS DIFFERENT. ONE QUARTER FINAL MATCH CAN KNOCK YOU OUT.

  • dummy4fb on February 3, 2011, 10:10 GMT

    england will make the quarter and that's it. india, south africa and the west indies won't be push overs

  • popcorn on February 3, 2011, 9:53 GMT

    Australia are the clear favourites for the ODI World Cup.Masters of the game,Australia have the World Cup 4 times - 1987 as UNDERDOGS IN INDIA,please note - and thrice in succession - 1999,2003,2007.Runners -up in 1996.They are also the 50 over format Champions Trophy winners twice in succession - in INDIA in 2007 and 2009.

  • Mitcher on February 3, 2011, 7:18 GMT

    Funny to hear all the chest beating from Indian fans warning how we need to beware. The format for this WC has been altered to ensure all the top teams make knockout stages after India (and Pakistan's) abject and utterly hilarious failure at the previous edition. And lets go back a further four years to 2003 and the way Australia HUMILIATED India in the final. And 1999? Oh yeah, we won that won too. I'll take track record over empty talk any day of the week.

  • Meety on February 3, 2011, 6:54 GMT

    @SRT_GENIUS - LOL re: Jinx, you could be right! @Cpt.Meanster - usual tripe from you re: "don't deserve" there is an old saying in sport, to be a champion you have to beat a champion. Oz are 3-time defending CHAMPIONS of the World, if they don't deserve to be in the Semi's NOBODY does! @sawifan - I agree. @gilly007 - good point, I think Punter is actually a great ODI captain, it's just he is too defensive in Tests! @All re: Oz in India; The 2007 W/C was played in sub-continental conditions, Oz frontline spinner was Hogg, who whilst being a 2 time WC winning spinner is really only considered a Part Timer @ 1st Class level. It's not really about how classy tour spin line up is - it's how effective. I would say that often Sehwag is a better spinner than Harbhajan, but he is definately not better. Smith, D Hussey, Doherty/Hauritz/Krezja, Clarke & White may be able to get the job done a lot better than people think. The Poms think Yardy can - & he's not much chop!

  • gilly007 on February 3, 2011, 6:45 GMT

    @maddy20 .. You could me right mate.... India might get knocked out before they reach the Aussies..... As far as ODIs are concerned, Aus are the best in the world. Far ahead of the others. South africa come next, but they, unlike australia struggle in the subcontinent..... For all those saying that Aussies struggle in subcontinent and india are gonna wn, let me just ask you. When was the last time India won a trophy of repute ??? or even reached th final for that matter. The 2007 T20 win was proved to be a fluke by the subsequent edition results. The same thing will happen all over again. Effigies being burnt. Houses stoned. Then sachin will score a century and everything will be forgotten.

  • Muyeen on February 3, 2011, 6:45 GMT

    As an Indian I am scared with Australia chasing big. Australia was never out of contention because its their test team which is struggling n not ODI and also making a comeback in ODI is much easier than in test even though i do not agree that Australia was making one. I believe after 1999 world cup, Australia was the only favorite team to win the cup in 03 and 07 and manta was whoever can beat Australia in the finals will win the cup but neither srilanka nor India could. but this round Australia is just one of the favorites like they were in 1999. I do not want Australia to win but that doesnt mean they are not favorites.

  • gilly007 on February 3, 2011, 6:28 GMT

    Seems like Australia are again the favourites for the WC. And all the talk of this Aussie Team being weak will disappear. Atleast for another two years. But Aussies will continue being in a league of their own.... Sad thing is, even if the Aussies win this WC ( in the sub continent ) people still wont accept that he is one of the best captains of all time. Come on Ricky ! You have the chance to become the only Cricketer to win 4 World cups ( three as Captain )

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