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Clarke focused on task in hand

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Australia captain Michael Clarke is refusing to look too far ahead as his side prepare to take on England in the NatWest Series.

For many, a contest between the old enemies immediately turns their attentions towards the Ashes.

But, despite Australia being due back on these shores to try and re-claim the urn next summer, Clarke only has eyes for the imminent five-match series with Alastair Cook’s men.

"It's all about the one-day series for me and the Australian team," he said.

Michael Clarke

Michael Clarke believes the younger members of his Australia side will gain much-needed experience during the upcoming NatWest Series

"Obviously we've got a few guys who have never played international cricket in the UK so it's a good opportunity for those guys to see the conditions, but our focus is 100% on these one-day matches."

While England remain ranked number one in the world in Test and T20 cricket, Australia are top dogs in the 50-over format.

Nevertheless, Clarke is expecting a significant tussle against a side who have won their last six series on home soil, meaning a 5-0 whitewash would see them usurp Australia in the standings.

He added: "They're playing some really good cricket and they've had a lot of success in their own backyard, so we know it's going to be really tough cricket and we're going to have to be at our best to compete with them.

"They've been very consistent, that's the one thing about the number one team in the world - it doesn't happen overnight, it's about consistency and playing your best cricket for a period of time.

"As we know, they've won their last six series at home so it's important for us to play well and stay at number one. Our goal as an Australian cricket team is to be number one in the world in all three forms."

A cornerstone of England’s dominance in home conditions is their strength and depth in the seam department.

As Test totems Stuart Broad and James Anderson prepare to spearhead a four-man pace attack at Lord’s, Clarke is under no illusions about the task awaiting he and his fellow batsmen.

Broad Anderson

Clarke is expecting a stern test from an England seam attack boasting the talents of Stuart Broad, left, and new-ball partner James Anderson, right

"I think they've obviously shown they've had a lot of success in both Test and one-day cricket," he said of Anderson and company.

"It's no coincidence the attack plays a big part in their results and they know the conditions as well as any team I guess, that's why they've won the last six series here.

"So I think it's going to be a test for our batters but I think it's a good pop to see where we're at."

The examination could be as fierce for Clarke as any of his team-mates, given his position as the prized scalp in Australia’s middle order.

That, combined with the responsibility of skippering a side blending youth and experience, could make for a trying fortnight for the 31-year-old, but it is a challenge he relishes.

"I've enjoyed captaining Australia that's for sure," he added. "There's been some challenges so far and I'm sure there's going to be a lot more ahead.

"But as a team I think we're improving, we're getting better every day, we're working hard in training - which is probably the most important thing for me.

"I love seeing the guys getting out of bed and trying to get better every day and we're doing that, but I still believe there's a long way to go for us to be the team we hope to be."

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