White desires further improvement after England thrashing
Cameron White insisted Australia will have to improve further if they are to challenge for a fourth consecutive World Cup title despite completing a 6-1 drubbing over England. A comfortable 57-run win at Perth concluded the emphatic scoreline and sets the team up nicely for the challenge ahead even though fitness worries remain over key players.
White was leading the team in the absence of Michael Clarke who was rested along with Shane Watson, but Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey are still not confirmed as heading to the World Cup. There are not too many concerns about Ponting after he returned to the nets, but Hussey is cutting it fine as he recovers from his serious hamstring injury.
However, their absences have not been too keenly felt in this series as Watson continued his impressive season, David Hussey slotted in well to the middle order, Shaun Marsh made a hundred, and Adam Voges hit a career-best 80 in his one appearance. White, though, believes the side needs to reach a higher standard.
"It's good to go in winning rather than losing, clearly, but I still think there's a bit of improvement left," he said. "It's been pretty good, very good really, I just think there's still another level we can take it to and we'll probably need to at the World Cup. I think we can do better. Whether that's just bowling better balls, taking more wickets or not being 4 for 100 like we were today. We haven't quite nailed it but have been playing quite well."
In stark contrast to the Ashes, the players who have come into the one-day side have been far more ready to perform at international standard. Although some inexperienced cricketers were included, such as Voges, Jason Krejza and Xavier Doherty, key performances have come from players with a decent amount of knowledge at the top level.
David Hussey showed that value at Perth as he struck a run-a-ball 60 in a 95-run stand with Voges which steadied Australia from a tricky 4 for 103. Hussey, 33, was recalled to the one-day side after a 17-month absence for this series, then included in the World Cup squad and his second coming looks like being more successful.
"The one thing is every time he bats for Australia he looks more comfortable and looks like he belongs there," White said. "We actually said it in the changing room when he was batting today, that he looks like he really belongs. To have that sort player, who is so good against spin bowling, it's a good thing for the team."
Voges, another to take his chance, was thrilled to have performed well on home soil but knows it may be a while until he gets to pull on the international colours again. "It is out of my hands now," he said. "I'll just enjoy tonight, enjoy the moment and whatever happens down the track so be it. I've got a Shield game to get ready for in four days' time, so that's my focus."
One player who didn't appear in Perth was Brett Lee after he was also rested and there were rumours of an injury to the strike bowler but White was having none of it. "He was 100% rested today, he's not injured." Any problem for Lee would be a major blow to Australia's World Cup hopes, but if he fires as he has in the last three weeks they have a good chance.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo