'We want to play perfect cricket' - Johnson
Australia fast bowler Mitchell Johnson has said that the side has a goal of playing 'perfect cricket' in the World Cup and aim to keep getting better with each match
Australia have declared their intention to keep raising the bar on performances in this World Cup, going on from a lopsided opening victory over England to achieve perfection before the tournament is out.
As the hosts enjoyed the second of two days off in the surrounds of their Brisbane hotel on Tuesday, Mitchell Johnson borrowed from the rhetoric common around Australian teams during the incomparable era of 1995 to 2008, when winning bred confidence and more wins. The MCG victory made it eight ODI wins in succession - most of them under George Bailey's captaincy - and the looming return of Michael Clarke is set to strengthen the XI further.
"It was a pretty short meeting after the game," Johnson said of the coach Darren Lehmann's post-match discussion in Melbourne. "But we can always get better at certain things, the thing was to not lose wickets so closely together and with the fielding we probably just dropped off towards the end. Throughout the whole match we did a lot of things that we wanted to and got the result that we wanted. We want to keep getting better throughout this tournament, we want to play perfect cricket.
"We've been playing very good one-day cricket for a while now. The guys' confidence is up, the way we batted … we posted a good total, I think it was a bit better than par. But then we were able to go out there and perform with the ball, and the fielding through most of that innings was outstanding and that's going to be a key through most of this tournament.
"I like having a few days off, it's been good to get here and relax and enjoy a win against England. I know most of the boys were nervous before that game [but] plenty of energy when we got out into the field and you could probably see that from the sidelines. We get used to the temperature, the humidity and then get back into training for Saturday."
Johnson was a spellbound spectator for much of Australia's previous World Cup victory in 2007, a surplus component of a squad that sailed through undefeated and unchallenged in the Caribbean. Their greatest hold up to victory back then was the muddled interpretation of rain rules in the final at Kensington Oval in Barbados, delaying the march to the trophy for longer than any opponent.
"As players I guess you want to keep a winning side, but it's up to the selectors," Johnson said. "I remember in the West Indies being on the sidelines and watching, I was ready the whole time, I was doing everything I could to make sure I was ready if that opportunity arose so I think that's what the guys need to do when they're not in the playing 11.
"It's always hard, you want to get out there and play in a World Cup especially when it's at home, it would be an amazing feeling for those guys to play but you just have to make sure you're prepared as much as you can be and if performances don't come up to scratch there might be an opportunity. But at the moment, from my point of view you're playing in a team that's winning."
Johnson said the team had not been distracted by the noise around Clarke's impending return, and spoke enthusiastically of how he expected to be utilised by a captain noted for his agile grasp of tactics and bowling changes in any format.
"I haven't heard too much, he's been around, he's been training and he's ready to go but I don't know what the plan is from a playing point of view, he's just sticking to what his first plan was," Johnson said. "He's not making it a distraction for us, he's just getting his job done and we're doing our job.
"Whenever that chance is for him to come back in we'll be ready for him. It was great for him to be out there in that warm-up game against the UAE, I love the captaincy he brings and he's got so much experience. And George does as well, but Michael Clarke's been the captain for a number of years now and I know the boys have his full support."
Johnson also spoke warmly of Mitchell Starc's progress as the man most likely to replace him as the team's favoured strike bowler in years to come. Having already ceded the new ball to Starc in ODIs, Johnson said the younger man need only add a shade more consistency in Test matches to be the finished article.
"I haven't been surprised because his one-day form has been outstanding throughout his career so far," Johnson said of how well Starc has bowled in this year's ODIs thus far. "He has struggled a little bit in Test-match cricket and from what I see he hasn't been able to do back-to-back performances and just get out there and do it. So I was never worried that he would not perform in one-day cricket.
"He's got everything it takes to be a spearhead. He's doing all the right things at the moment, he's going out there and enjoying himself, bowling fast and swinging the ball and that's what it's all about. He's learning every day, the more cricket he plays the more he learns so it's good to have some senior guys around to help him out and I'm sure if he keeps going the way he is he'll be a champion one-day bowler and Test bowler in the future."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig