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February 2, 2011
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 ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
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