Clarke demands greater consistency
Michael Clarke is under no illusions as to the task facing Australia after they slipped 2-0 down in the NatWest Series courtesy of a comprehensive six-wicket defeat at the hands of England at the Kia Oval.
Ravi Bopara and Ian Bell compiled 82 and 75 respectively to help guide the hosts home with more than four overs to spare after Australia had laboured to 251 for seven.
The margin of England’s victory was far greater than it had been two days earlier at Lord’s, when they triumphed by 15 runs, yet Clarke believes his team were comfortably second best in each encounter.
“I think the scoreboard at the first game at Lord’s probably hid how far away the teams were,” said Australia’s captain.
“I think England outplayed us at Lord’s and they certainly outplayed us here, so we need to get better quickly.
“We have been very inconsistent and we have made a point of working on that and trying to become a more consistent team. We’ve got some more work to do.
“We’ve got the talent, that’s something I’ve spoken about for a while. It’s now about turning the talent into performances.”
Although Shane Watson and George Bailey recorded half-centuries, Australia were unable to maintain a healthy run-rate during the middle overs of their innings and ultimately paid the price for their slow progress.
“I think England deserve a lot of credit for the way they bowled through the middle,” Clarke added. “It’s generally the case when you’ve got four good fast bowlers and a good spinner as well.
“Rotation of strike is an area of our game that we continue to work on and we know we need to improve, as is facing spin bowling – I think that’s been spoken about for my whole career. Today was another example of that.”
After failing with the bat, Clarke was able to make an instant impact when he came on to bowl with England on course for victory.
The slow left-armer bowled Bell with his first delivery and then won an lbw verdict against Eoin Morgan two balls later, only for the decision to be overturned on review.
Any edge from Morgan, who finished unbeaten on 43, was not picked up by the Snickometer, but Clarke refused to dwell upon the incident, even though England were still 81 adrift of their target at the time.
“I don’t think that was a turning point at all,” he said.
“We think he didn’t hit the ball, but it was hard to see. Looking from the ground at a big screen is a lot different information to what the third umpire is receiving when he’s right in front of a television. It’s probably a lot clearer for him.
“The information I received was that there was clear evidence that he did hit the ball, and I don’t think it had any impact on the result of the game, to be honest. We needed to take wickets before that.”