Australia’s cricket World Cup 2015 loss to New Zealand was disappointing but no wake-up call, according to captain Michael Clarke, who said his team remains full of confidence despite the frustrating start to their campaign.
Saturday’s defeat in Wellington has left Australia fourth in Pool A, after an opening win over England and a match washed out against Bangladesh.
The co-hosts’ tournament has also been affected by injuries, with Clarke’s recovery from hamstring surgery overshadowing the team’s preparations and fast-bowling all-rounder James Faulkner sidelined with a side strain.
Paceman Pat Cummins will miss the team’s match against Afghanistan in Perth on Wednesday with another side strain, while media reports of tension between Clarke and coach Darren Lehmann have added additional distractions.
Australia’s batsmen were skittled for 151 runs in the much-hyped clash against in-form New Zealand before paceman Mitchell Starc took six wickets to turn what could have been a thrashing into a nerve-jangling one-wicket loss.
Asked whether the defeat to their highly-fancied neighbours was a wake-up call, Clarke on Tuesday told reporters in Perth: “I’ll say, no, I don’t think so.
“I think we got beaten by a very good team. Obviously, it’s always tough to beat New Zealand in their own backward.
“It’s always tough to compete against New Zealand no matter where they play, and they’re playing really good cricket at the moment.
“I believe in confidence, and I think we’ve been playing some really good one-day cricket over the past 12 months to two years,” Clarke added.
“I think the boys did a fantastic job in the tri-series (against England and India), so I think our players are full of confidence, and I think that’s how you play your best cricket.
“If you’re confident, you back your own ability, and you walk out and have the freedom to enjoy the brand of cricket you play. I think that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
While unlikely to dent their prospects of making the knockout rounds, the defeat by New Zealand has added urgency to Australia’s clash at the WACA against non-test playing nation Afghanistan, who celebrated an emotional first win in their maiden World Cup against fellow minnows Scotland.
The International Cricket Council has drawn criticism for plans to cut the next World Cup to 10 teams from the current 14, which could hurt Afghanistan’s chances of qualifying.
Clarke said Afghanistan had been “great” for the tournament.
“I think it’s wonderful for the game of cricket,” he added.
“I think they’ve shown the world on this stage that they’ve got a really good team and they can perform at this level against the best.”