Clarke Praises Sri Lanka, Criticises Own Batsmen
Australia captain Michael Clarke has paid tribute to Sri Lanka's bowlers after his side was dismissed for 74 in the third One-Day International in Brisbane.
Nevertheless, he has offered no defence for his batsmen after no top-order player could even reach double figures as Australia lurched to a four-wicket defeat that puts them 2-1 down in the five-match series.
Prior to the game, Clarke had defended the rotation policy that had seen a number of players - himself included - rested for the start of the series and his position wasn't helped as a mere 21 runs were contributed by the returning batsmen.
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"It makes absolutely no difference to my preparation," Clarke countered when asked whether his time away had hindered his performance. "I was as well prepared for this game as every Test throughout the summer.
"When you lose you put yourself up for criticism. The reality is, it doesn't matter how much you do or don't play as a team if you bat like that you won't win many games of cricket.
"My opinion (on rotation) hasn't changed on. Our performance today was very poor, we let ourselves down and the people that came to watch us. I think our cricket through out the summer has been pretty consistent, today is certainly our worst day."
Nuwan Kulasekara delivered a spell of swing bowling that the top order had few answers to as he picked up five for 22 and then Lasith Malinga took three for 14 to further punish the home side, with Clarke quick to praise the way the bowlers had made the best use of helpful conditions.
"I think Sri Lanka deserve a lot credit for the way they bowled, they pitched the ball up and swung the ball in conditions were conducive to that," he said.
"I think it was great execution of swing bowling that's for sure, from the whole Sri Lankan team, they used conditions really well. I think the wicket had good pace and bounce in it, I still think it was a pretty good wicket, we knew the new ball was going to be crucial whether we were batting or starting with the ball.
However, he did not mince his words when it came to analysing his side's batting performance, which saw them slip to 40 for nine before Mitchell Starc (22 not out) and Xavier Doherty (15) put on 34 for the final wicket.
"Our shot selection was poor and our defence was poor against the moving ball," he assessed. "I think we let ourselves down with our shot selection and defence, they're probably the two areas we let ourselves down.
"We know we can't play like that if we want to be successful in this form of the game, that's for sure."
Australia have a chance to swiftly put this performance behind them with the fourth game in Sydney coming up on Sunday (20th January) although they need to win to stay in the series.
© Cricket World 2013
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