Zimbabwe v Australia, tri-series, Harare August 31, 2014

Clarke unhappy with Smith omission

ESPNcricinfo staff

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'A terrible performance' - Clarke

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."

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  • Vivian on September 2, 2014, 9:45 GMT

    Perhaps Clark should express displeasure of himself for not been able navigate the team he is given for the victory against Zimbabwe. As Darren says, if they can't win with the team given, it's a problem within. I hate Clarks childish complains over omissions, rather than give due credits to Zimbabwe. Big teams looses to small teams occasionally and there is no big deal about it.

  • James on September 2, 2014, 8:03 GMT

    Andre117, how about actually saying something meaningful? So SA showed they can beat ZB comfortably? When was that? It certainly wasn't the previous game, where SA struggled for large portions of the game before winning by a mere 60 runs. And yeah, Aus showed they could absolutely obliterate ZB second last time round - by 200-odd. So what's your point?

  • Xiong on September 2, 2014, 7:34 GMT

    @sidgarg How was Clarke incompetent? Plenty in the Australian team were but Clarke wasn't. Scored most of the runs, when he came onto the field to captain the game changed, and his bowling at the death was what the other part timers should've done. Did you even watch the game?

  • Sidhant on September 2, 2014, 5:42 GMT

    The captain should always be the one picking the XI, the selectors can pick the 15 which should also include the captain's vote. You can't have a disgruntled captain leading the players he believes are not good enough to play in the team. Although in this case Clarke is deflecting blame on the selectors for his and his team's incompetence.

  • Andre on September 2, 2014, 5:18 GMT

    I just love how the Aussie fans go on about "it was not our best side". You are the #3 side (#1 not too long ago) and Zim is the #10 side. We (SA) showed that we can beat them comfortably even if we rest our top players, so what's your excuse now? You can't complain about the pitch either as Zim (#10 ODI team) took 9 wickets compared to your 7.

  • James on September 2, 2014, 3:07 GMT

    @Modernumpiresplz: It does with Pakistan as our next test tour!

  • Kuldeep on September 1, 2014, 21:47 GMT

    Michael Clarke gave up the selection vote after losing the Ashes, he should let the selectors do their job.

  • josh on September 1, 2014, 21:45 GMT

    Nz woulda easily beaten Zim in this game!

  • Phil on September 1, 2014, 19:07 GMT

    @Donovan Bolton - finally a Saffa fan with some wise words - hope your right about the next match.

  • Dummy4 on September 1, 2014, 15:39 GMT

    Michael Clarke used to have a say in selection till last year. He chose to give it up himself because he wanted to be one of the boys and Rod Marsh actually said that was one of the contributory factors for the team's success. It's a bit rich for him to start blaming the selectors for not giving him the team he wants when he himself opted not to exercise that responsibility

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