Australia v England, 1st ODI, Melbourne January 11, 2014

'We want to get back to No.1' - Clarke


Become the best in the world in all three forms - that's Australia's goal, as stated by the coach Darren Lehmann earlier this week. In no format are they closer to that aim than one-day cricket. They are No.3 in Tests and South Africa hold an enormous margin at the top; in Twenty20 Australia sit seventh. But it is not out of the question that by the end of this month, Australia might have completed one-third of their goal by reaching No.1 on the ODI rankings.

For that to happen, Australia would need either to beat England at least 4-1 and have New Zealand defeat India in the concurrent series, or complete a 5-0 clean sweep over England and have India win no more than three of their five games in New Zealand. On the other hand, England can jump ahead of Australia into second if they perform strongly in this series.

Australia will need to defy recent history, for each of the past four Ashes campaigns have been followed by a one-day series that has been won by the side that lost the Tests. That is perhaps not surprising; it must be difficult to get motivated for a bilateral one-day series when you've just won the urn.

But only five members of Australia's Ashes-winning XI will take the field in the opening one-day international in Melbourne on Sunday, and while captain Michael Clarke said it could be easy in such circumstances to slide into cruising mode, Australia's aim to be the best in the world should guard against complacency.

"They're two different teams. But for the guys who do play Test cricket, it's quite easy to take your foot off the pedal," Clarke said on Saturday. "I said before the last two Test matches that we as a Test team had a lot to play for because we were ranked fifth at the time and we want to get back to No.1. I say the same about this one-day unit. We know we are not the No.1 team in the world at this stage. That is our goal.

"If you want to be a part of this team, you cannot afford to take your foot off the pedal. We as a team have no complacency where you're sitting there expecting that because the result was five-nil in the Test series that the one-day result will be the same. We know England have a very good one-day team ... we currently sit second in the rankings and only just, England are one point behind us, so we've got to play our best to stay at No.2, let alone get to No.1."

To that end, Australia have decided that while their Test players can benefit from a break after the Ashes, they will not be rested in groups as they were last summer. Mitchell Johnson will miss the first game but will return for the second match in Brisbane, and the selectors will need to consider whether others such as Clarke, Shane Watson and Brad Haddin might also need to sit out to help them recover ahead of the upcoming South African tour.

"I feel good at the moment. That will be decided by the people well and truly above me," Clarke said of potentially having a rest himself. "If they think I should miss a game then I'll have that conversation with Boof [Lehmann] and the selectors. But right now I'm really keen to help this team win this one-day series.

"Winning the Test in three days gave everyone a couple of extra days off which is nice. But I missed the recent one-day series in India. I played in England and enjoyed the one-day series. It's going to be nice to be back out there and playing some one-day stuff."

The near full-strength side has meant there was no room in the squad for Phillip Hughes, a prolific one-day scorer over the past year, and Shaun Marsh has also been left out for the opening match, with David Warner and Aaron Finch to open the batting. The selectors also decided against rushing James Pattinson back in for the first game after his seven wickets in three BBL matches, his first games back since suffering a back injury during the Ashes in July.

"I don't know why they decided to not pick him in the first eleven," Clarke said of the selectors. "That's their call. But I think James certainly is realistic and understands that he's only been back bowling for a couple of weeks in regards to game practice. He's a wonderful talent. Everybody in Australia loves seeing him bowl well. He's looking fit and I'm sure he'll play a big part throughout this series."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Patrick on January 12, 2014, 22:17 GMT

    @Suraj Krishnaswamy, you obviously missed the many many many articles about Eng turning on dry sub-continental style pitches all summer following their resounding success in India. Dhoni scored runs which proves they were dry flat tracks! Let me explain a bit about Aust cricket and what our first ODI 11 looks like, players missing in India, Clarke & MJ, only our captain & leading strike bowler, Warner & Patto, only our leading short form batsmen and first pick opening bowler! In summary India struggled to beat a mid strength Aust team on embarrassingly one sided surfaces at home in batathon's where the modestly able Bailey was the equal of any Indian batsmen and an Aust fast bowler made a hundred it was that damn easy to tap sixes.

  • Izmi on January 12, 2014, 13:00 GMT

    Australia is now back in business having beaten England in the last ODI series 3-2 and having lost to India 3-2 in the absence of captain Clarke due to injury and Mitchell Johnson not available for the finals being rested for the ashes series against England. They have just won the first ODI against the poms without much effort and are very confident about winning 5 nil just like the ashes test series. The cricket series against South Africa next month will be the biggest challenge which could also decide the number one test side in world cricket. Then there is also the T20 World Cup in Bangla Desh to follow in April this year and the 50 over world cup next year which will be other opportunities to be the best. Since Lehmann took over as cricket coach the Australian cricket team has improved in leaps and bounds and is brimming with confidence. No doubt the current team under captain Clarke could easily be the best cricket team in the world once again after a short lapse of 6 years.

  • Dummy4 on January 12, 2014, 6:46 GMT

    What's about India nail down aussie in India 5-0

  • Android on January 12, 2014, 4:35 GMT

    its all abt adaptation in new conditions. india is superb in flate tracks and can also beat any team if they got some time in overseas. dont forget johhansber test where sa was abt to loose..ausies are playing ipl so well adapted in indian conditions..other wise test team was ausseis give thanx to ipl...

  • Daniel on January 12, 2014, 4:09 GMT

    To all Indian fans who say Australia needs to focus on winning overseas and who says Australias bowling attack is poor and that MJ is a one time wonder. Firstly has any Indian team won overseas other than Bangladesh? Also the upcoming series in New Zealand will be a tough series for India. Look at the NZ bowlers, world class I'd say and your in their back yard, Seaming and Swinging conditions. If NZ can get their batmens to put up a decent total. WATCH OUT!

  • ESPN on January 12, 2014, 2:56 GMT

    The last I checked, England was not in the sub continent and India won the Champions Trophy! And AUS team which competed in India wasn't in any way weak. Except Clarke the entire team which is currently facing England was there. So do not hide behind this excuse. India might not be good in tests outside subcontinent, but ODI is a different ball game altogether. India are #1 in ODI and deservedly so....

  • Matthew on January 12, 2014, 0:58 GMT

    Imagine M Clarke fronting his next press conference: "We are No.2 in ODIs but we took a vote and the guys' favourite number is 5, so we want to become No.5". "No.3 in Tests is awesome. The Saffas are way better than us anyway and India is a pretty good team too, so we'll see if we can be a worthy No.3 in tests." "So we are No.7 in T20, it's better than No.8."

  • Patrick on January 12, 2014, 0:55 GMT

    How quickly our Indian friends forget that Aust weakest top 6 batsmen Bailey pummelled them at home, that our opening bowler struck a 50 odd ball hundred, where does this confidence about India's supposed ODI strength come from?????? They could barely win a contest of bat & bat, it's foolish to think they can cope in conditions where Bowling matters too, sorry guys but you are home town heroes who can't compete unless it's a batting paradise and even then only just! 3-2 at home to a weakened Aust on embarrassingly one sided pitches spoken of poorly worldwide is something to be ashamed of not food for boasting!

  • Graham on January 12, 2014, 0:51 GMT

    I would have thought it was every team's goal so why are people having a crack at Clarke? Also love the irony coming from Indian fans saying we need to win away from home.Well it doesn't seem you have to for being number 2 you just have to reject touring other countries.

  • Patrick on January 12, 2014, 0:38 GMT

    @Parth Choksi, truly delusional, Johnson has had his ups and downs everyone knows that but to say he's a one time performer shows only jealousy and wishful thinking.

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