Clarke unhappy with Smith omission
Australia captain Michael Clarke has expressed displeasure with the XI he was given by the selectors, after his side's three-wicket defeat against Zimbabwe in Harare. While criticising the team's performance against spin on a slow wicket, Clarke also said Australia had missed Steven Smith and Mitchell Johnson, both of whom were not picked for this game.
"I think our middle-order batting certainly missed Steve Smith, he's a very good player of spin and it was disappointing he wasn't out there to combat those conditions, but that was the way the selectors went," Clarke said after Australia had lost an ODI to Zimbabwe after 31 years. "I want to take nothing away from Zimbabwe. I think they outplayed us and they certainly deserved to win today.
"I think we've seen through Smithy's career he's a pretty good player of spin bowling and he can bowl some handy legspinners, so I think he would have been handy out there, but it means you've got to leave someone out as well so that's always difficult."
When asked about Johnson being rested for this game, Clarke said: "Like I say, the selectors pick the XI and I do my best to try and get the best out of them, so it's always tough to work out what you think the best XI is for certain conditions. It didn't matter what XI we had on the field. If we play like that we're not going to beat any team. So whatever team is selected we have to perform better than we did today. Obviously the selectors will be talking now about what they think the best team is and the players will be having a think about their own performances as well."
Australia's batsmen struggled on a slow pitch that offered plenty of turn. Clarke battled through hamstring trouble to score 68, but none of the other batsmen were fluent against Zimbabwe's spinners. Australia were restricted to 209, their lowest total batting first against Zimbabwe, who won with two overs to spare. Clarke called it a "terrible performance".
"I think we played some average cricket at best throughout the whole game. I think our general fielding was poor," Clarke said. "Our execution with the ball was okay but had to be better when we only had 200-odd on the board. And our batting, we continually talk about facing spin bowling as an Australian team. It seems to be an area we continue to struggle in and today's another example of that
"I thought it might spin early on because it was a bit tacky but I thought once the sun got on the wicket it wouldn't spin as much. But it spun the whole game. I think that's a positive for our spin bowlers and obviously going to be tough for our batters throughout the rest of the series."