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Cannot take New Zealand lightly: George Bailey

We miss Clarke every time he's not with us, says Australia's stand-in skipper

Cannot take New Zealand lightly: George Bailey - Cricket News
Australia's batsman George Bailey plays a shot during an ODI.
What was the reaction really of the Australian team to more disappointing news about Michael Clarke this morning?
We haven't really discussed it as a group. I mean, it's something I guess we've been preparing for. I don't think Pup was ever going to come in and play a game without having trained, so the fact that he hadn't rejoined the group as of yesterday, I think everyone assumed what was going on.  

How badly do you miss him do you think? 
Oh, we missed him last game. He's our captain and our best batsman, so we miss him every time he's not with us, but as any team does when you've got your best players out, the challenge is for someone to step up and fill the hole or numerous people to step up and fill the hole. There's probably no easy way to cover him.  

It's been a long‑standing injury. Do you think there's no chance of him playing in the Champions Trophy, and what about the Ashes to follow? 
Oh, I'm not qualified, I'm no good at backs, I've got no idea what he's going through. My understanding is he's still just trying to fix it day by day. Having played with him in the past, there are times when it does just suddenly free up and he's right to go again, and then there's other times it obviously takes longer. As you said, it's an issue that he's had a while. Pup knows how to deal with it as best as anyone.  He's not going to make any silly decisions and he knows the summer is coming up, as well.  

Let's deal with the New Zealand game. Have you got that England defeat out of the system? 
I hope so. There's no point carrying that into the New Zealand game. We'll get nowhere there. We addressed some issues and we'll address them again in some meetings this afternoon just in terms of preparing for this game.

I wasn't unhappy with the way we bowled and fielded. I think there's always things you can improve and things you can do differently, but I think it was the batting that probably let us down, and even looking back at that, I think England bowled particularly well, and to change that game, it really is one person stepping up, one partnership, and that game can be turned on its head.  

Conditions may have changed a bit from the weekend. We've had a bit of rain, a bit of dark clouds. Will that affect your tactics or the way you bowl do you think? 
Absolutely, yeah, the weather and the pitch and those things always come into how you're going to attack any game, how you're going to line your team up, whatever that may be.  

And the reverse swing that the English bowlers were getting, are you hoping to replicate that? 
Always, yeah. The reverse swing is a great skill. I think it's probably one of the greatest skills that a bowler can have in one‑day cricket.  If he can find a way to replicate that, that's certainly something we'll be trying to do.  

This is probably the first time New Zealand have gone in as favorites against Australia. How does that feel? 
Yeah, absolutely, they're in good form. I think their one‑day cricket has been pretty consistent for a number of years. Certainly never to be taken lightly. As the favorites, there's only two of us in it so I'm not fussed either way where we stand or where we're priced and that sort of stuff.  It's just a matter of us going out and doing what we do well, and particularly when you are playing well, the tendency can probably be to focus too much on the opposition or what they do well or their strengths or whatnot. But I think for us to get back to playing our best cricket and get back to where we want to be, it's really about focusing a bit more internally, making sure we do the things that we want to do well. And batting is a good example of that because I think the challenge is when you've had a couple of poor batting performances that guys start to doubt their place on the team or their roles on the team, and what we want our guys to do is to go out and have that absolute clarity. That real freedom to bat the way we know that they bat, and that's different from how Shane Watson and David Warne will bat to how Adam Voges and George Bailey bat. But to make sure that they go out and they're not too worried about how they're playing, it's just a matter of focusing on them playing as well as they can.  

Obviously New Zealand not having beaten Australia in a number of ICC tournament games, despite the situation, will that have any sort of bearing? 
None. Absolutely none. When we start the conditions will be different, different pitch, different tournament, different teams. There's no bearing. I think teams take some bearing out of how they're playing at the moment and the confidence they have, but once again, that can change so quickly in what is such really an individual team sport. One person stepping up and changing the game can lift a team.  

And you as a skipper must really be looking forward to Mitchell Johnson's performance because over the years he has been really a thorn in New Zealand's flesh. In the last five games he has taken 15 wickets against them. 
That's excellent news, yes. I thought Mitch bowled really well in the last game, really happy with his pace. I gave him the new ball, which I thought he responded really well to, and if he is bowling well it's a great thing for our team because his aggression is very easy to match in the field when he's bowling well. As you said, he's a wicket-taker and he can change the course of a game in a number of balls right throughout the innings, and that's obviously some pretty important traits.  

Having seen the way spinners have bowled particularly up here, have you given thought to giving Xavier a go or utilizing more of your other spin options? 
Yep, looking at all those particularly, I think we're on the same wicket as players were on yesterday, the Pakistan game, so obviously a worn wicket and on the back of what we saw in our game against England.  

With Michael obviously pulling up injured and you being thrust into your captaincy role, is this one of the challenges of your career to get this Australia team back on track? 
Yeah, I'm not lumping it on at the moment, but that's part of what being a team is. I am enjoying the captaincy side of things, and particularly enjoying working with some of their younger players, the less experienced players, and some of them I think it's their first major tournament, too, so working through all those pressures and things that they have to go through. But whether Pup is here or not or wherever the captain is, the goal of Australian cricket I don't think changes, and the goal of the management team and all the players in it is always going to be to win and be playing our best cricket.  

The Chappell‑Hadlee Trophy has fallen by the wayside a little bit the last few years. Any thought to putting up the trophy for this game? 
That's the first I've heard of it. I'm not sure. I don't really ‑‑ personally I'm not sure that that's applicable within a tournament. I think once you're within a tournament that's probably good enough.  

Some of the reaction you've got from the English press about the way you performed at the weekend was not very encouraging.  Have you been hurt by that, saying that the side lacks a bit of ‑‑ 
English press? We read everything they write and we take it all very, very seriously (laughter), and they're privy to everything we do, so we take it with a pinch of salt. I reckon would be the response there.

The loss hurt us as much as anyone, more than anyone. We don't want to be losing to England, we don't want to be losing to anyone, but more so than the loss, the challenge is to be playing our best cricket and that's something I keep getting back to is the gap between our best and our worst cricket and make sure we try and keep that gap as small as possible. Whether it's England, New Zealand, whoever we might be playing, the focus really isn't ever on the opposition that much.  It's more on us doing everything we can to make sure we're winning.  

New Zealand's bowling is doing pretty well, in particular Mitchell McClenaghan. He hasn't played against Australia yet, so have you had a look at him or is he part of the plan to talk about? 
Yep. Yeah, we've talked about him, and I guess the advantage of having seen him play those three games against England prior to this game, prior to this tournament, and then watching him the other day, too. He's obviously posing some challenges with the new ball. He's getting some nice shape and nice pace, so his record is pretty good for someone that hasn't played too much international cricket. So, certainly someone that we'll look at as we will all their bowlers.  

Do you mind going through some of the other threats you see from the New Zealand side? 
I think both their opening bowlers have been in pretty good touch. Kyle Mills is shaping the ball and I guess a bit of a one‑day stalwart for New Zealand. And Dan Vettori is always someone that we will respect, pay the utmost respect to and play him really watchfully. As everyone said, I think they all bowl pretty well. They're in pretty good touch. I think they're a pretty good one‑day side, and they're playing some really consistent cricket. They're not relying too heavily on any one player, which is always a key.  

Australia won the last two Champions Trophies but they are a bit down these days. How important is it for you and your team to win the Champions Trophy to sort of revive the team's fortunes? 
I think you just answered your own question. We're not playing the cricket we'd like to play. Probably the best way to get over that would be to win this tournament. I think we only lost the first game thus far, so it's not ‑‑ we haven't ‑‑ we're not at panic stages just yet. 

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