Australia skipper Michael Clarke is to return for the final one-day international (ODI) against England today, with coach Darren Lehmann warning that the tourists will have gained confidence from their first win against the home team.
After dominating England this summer, winning the Ashes 5-0 and taking the first three ODIs, Australia were outplayed in the fourth 50-over game in Perth on Friday — losing by 57 runs.
“We didn’t bat very well last night, we certainly didn’t bowl well early... outplayed. So we need to bounce back to win,” Lehmann yesterday.
Australia held an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match ODI series going into the Perth game and fielded an understrength side which was minus Clarke, ’keeper Brad Haddin, Shane Watson and David Warner, who were all rested.
George Bailey, who stood in for Clarke as captain on Friday, said it made a difference playing without them, but defended Australia’s decision to rest the key players.
“I’m surprised that Pup [Clarke] is actually coming back after just missing one. I thought he might miss two,” Bailey said.
“Don’t get me wrong, you want to win every game you play. But given how crammed the schedule is, I think if you do get an opportunity to rest a few of the guys, you take the option,” he added.
Watson is also to return for the fifth ODI in Adelaide, but pace star Mitchell Johnson will be rested ahead of next month’s three-Test tour of South Africa, along with Warner and Haddin.
Friday night’s win was the first of the tour for England and Lehmann said they would have gained some confidence.
“I think they’ve played some reasonable one-day cricket, to be fair to them,” he said. “They are not a bad one-day unit, so they will probably get some confidence, as you would. From our point of view, we’ve got to get back to the winning ways.”
England skipper Cook, whose captaincy had been questioned in the face of the consecutive losses to Australia, also spoke of confidence when he said he wanted to lead England to next year’s 50-over World Cup.
“With what I’ve learned over the past three years, it would be wrong to change so close to a World Cup,” he said. “During the past four or five days, I have done quite a lot of talking to the guys. When you chat to some guys you trust and respect, and find out what they’re thinking, it gives you the confidence [to go on].”