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Goal is to be the No. 1 ODI team: Clarke

The Australian captain said his team is focused on being consistent in the upcoming Champions Trophy

Goal is to be the No. 1 ODI team: Clarke - Cricket News
Captain Michael Clarke of Australia said his team is striving for consistency.
Looking back now, how do you reflect on the tour of India, and do you think your team have got it out of their system now?
Well, I certainly don't want to look back. I think I've had enough time over the past eight weeks to look back. It's about looking forward. We're here for a completely different tour, obviously a one‑day tournament as opposed to Test matches that we just played in India. This group is very focused on what's in front of us. We know how tough the Champions Trophy tournament is and how tough international one‑day cricket is around the world these days with teams being so close together.

You know, it's going to be a tough tournament, there's no doubt about it. We know we're going to have to be at our best, and at this stage we're certainly very focused on making sure we're as prepared as we can be for that first game.

I'm just wondering, back in Australia the Federal Government has introduced legislation to ban in‑play betting given the scandals that cricket has had with betting. I'm interested in your views on this.
It's certainly something I haven't thought too much about to be honest. I think in regards to the Australian cricket team I can only really talk about us. I know we are very well educated on what is legal and what is illegal. Cricket Australia and the ICC go out of their way to make it very clear in regards to what standards you have as an international cricketer, and as a player you have to uphold those standards.

So yeah, I guess like I say, it's something I haven't thought too much about in regards to the Australian cricket team, and I know, like I say, we are regularly educated on what is right and what is wrong.

Dwayne Bravo has just told us that he accepts that he thinks he's in the group of death. There would be the implication that you're in the easier group. And just secondly how important is the game against England to lay down a marker for the Ashes?
I think both groups are very hard. I think there's obviously only four teams that can go through, so to me it's about making sure come that first game you're as ready as you can be. I don't think there's enough time in this tournament to build momentum like you might be able to do in a World Cup, for example, and in regards to England, well, it's a very important game because it's the first game of this tournament for us.

I don't think we as a team are focused on the Ashes at all at this stage. No doubt there's a lot of buildup in regards to media and public back home. I'm sure it's the same here in England. I certainly have no problems in speaking about it and hearing about the Ashes because it's a fantastic series that every Australian cricketer looks forward to.

But in regards to this tournament, as a team I don't think we are focused on stamping our mark against England. We might be focused on stamping our mark against England for the rest of this series, this tournament, but that's got nothing to do with the Ashes.

England will be your second home for the next few weeks and next few months, so how important is it to start well in the Champions Trophy as a curtain raiser leading up to the Ashes series?
Well, again, I don't see it as a curtain raiser. I see it as it's the second biggest one‑day tournament in the world. As a one‑day team, this is a huge series for us, a huge tournament. We want to have success. That's got nothing to do with the Ashes.

Yeah, I think in regards to the Australian team, this one‑day team, this is a huge tournament for us and we're very focused on that.

Does the Cardiff Wales Stadium hold sort of mixed memories for you, a few runs, but a win and a draw the past few years?
Yeah, well, I think England in general has mixed memories for me, some tough times no doubt about it, but some great times, as well. It's a fantastic tour, there's no doubt about it. I know every Australian player I've played with has loved touring the UK, and this tour will be no different for us. There's a lot of guys that haven't played much cricket over here, but hopefully we can have some more weather like this, sun trying to break through and get outside and train today. I think the boys are really excited to get a hit today. Facilities are great here in Cardiff, and every tour I've been on to the UK we get looked after like gold, so it's a fantastic place, and hopefully we can enjoy the next four months.

Are is there any bad memories to get over here in Cardiff in particular because of the frustration in the Ashes in 2009 and losing to Bangladesh here?
Fortunately not too many of the guys were involved in any of the series. I've still got a few memories but they're in the back of my mind at this stage. Like I say, it's a wonderful place to come and play. Cardiff is a beautiful ground with great facilities, and the training facilities today are as good as anywhere around the world. We're very lucky, very fortunate, and we're looking forward to I guess these two practice games firstly for us before our first‑round match against England.

When you look around the dressing room these days you see a lot of young faces, new faces. Does that sort of make you feel the senior statesman within the group?
Does it make me feel old? Definitely. (Laughter.)  

I think it's exciting. I think the team is in a really exciting place at the moment. Obviously in both forms of the game, all three forms of the game we're really chasing consistency. I find we play some fantastic cricket at home in conditions that we're very accustomed to, very used to, but our most recent tours, whether it be the one‑day format or Test format, haven't been as consistent as we would like overseas out of Australia.

Everybody is learning. We've got a fantastic group. I think the players in the group are working exceptionally hard at the moment. Everyone is trying to get better every single day, and that's all I can ask for as a captain, and I've got a lot of faith in the guys. I'm really confident that the way we are training, the way we are working, the guys' attitudes, I'm really confident we can have some success in this Champions Trophy.

I guess the ultimate target is to become No. 1 Test team in the world again. How far down the line do you think you are towards that, and are there a few years to go or are you closer than that do you think?
Well, to be honest with this group the goal is to be the No. 1 one‑day team in the world with the group I have here at the moment, and that's our focus right now. I think if we can win the Champions Trophy it will go a long way to getting back that mantle.

Like I say, we know it's about consistency, it's about every single day being able to perform at your best both individually and as a team, and that's a tough ask. But that's the hardest part of this game; completely different conditions all around the world to what you're used to back in Australia. But the best teams in the world do that, and we'll continue to work hard on that and like I say, if we can have success in this tournament we'll go a long way to getting back to being the No. 1 one‑day team in the world.

I know you're not focusing on the Ashes as yet, but did you see much or anything of England's series victory over New Zealand and what did you make of the results given that they really struggled in New Zealand during the winter?
I actually went to watch one day of the game, and it was day one of the second Test that got washed out, so I didn't see a ball bowled to be honest. Yeah, again, right now my focus is on these one‑dayers. I'm sure England will take a lot of confidence out of that, that they've had some more success, but that's not a surprise to me. They're a very good team, especially in their own backyard. They're going to be tough to beat, that's for sure.

But right now if we can play some good cricket in the Champions Trophy and run with a bit of that momentum, we'll wait and see.

Ricky Ponting said today that he would never say never for a possible call‑up. Can you imagine a situation where you might make that phone call?
Well, I think that's right, you should never say never in life, that's for sure, but I think Ricky also made it very clear that his time had finished at international level. He's retired from the Australian cricket team. I hear he's very focused and excited about being a part of the Surrey team.

Yeah, right now we have a 15‑man Champions Trophy squad, and then we'll have a 16‑man Ashes squad. Ricky is not selected in either of those squads at this stage.

Players like Mitchell Johnson, James Faulkner and Shane Watson have done quite well IPL. Do you think that will help you here?
I believe that confidence ‑‑ scoring runs or taking wickets breeds confidence, so I don't think it matters what form of the game you play.  If you're performing well, you'd rather be in that position coming into a big tournament than not performing well. So yeah, look, I think they've -- obviously Mumbai won the IPL so we had a few Australians in that team, so they'll be full of confidence, and I think Shane Watson was man of the series in the IPL, as well.

Yeah, look, I think it's a great thing. I think we've been saying for a while there's plenty of talent in our team, it's just about that consistent performance, and hopefully those guys will bring a lot of that momentum into the start of this Champions Trophy for us.

Kevin Pietersen is on the road back to recovery. How much of a boost is that for England looking ahead to the Ashes?
Look, he's a fantastic player, there's no doubt about it. I think they'll look forward to having him back. We will plan like England will be fully fit and everybody that is in their best 11 will be out there when that time comes. But right now he's not in the Champions Trophy squad. He won't be on the field in a week's time when we play England, and I'm really focused on that 11 more than the first test match at this stage.

England have already had two pretty successful Test matches in English conditions this summer. You will not have had any real experience in English conditions going into the Ashes apart from two warm‑up games. Do you think it's enough?
I think if we win the Champions Trophy it'll be more than enough. That's the best preparation possible. Like I say, my focus is having success in this tournament right now. I'm not too concerned about the Ashes right now.

Before the event will you have a chance to catch up at all with Glamorgan's big Australian contingent and pick their brains for any local knowledge that they may be able to provide?
Yeah, look, I think we're very lucky, I guess, in this country that a lot of Australians are over here, either playing or come to watch the summer. I think we'll spend a lot of time trying to connect with the guys that have been playing over here, more to catch up, I guess, than learn too much about conditions. But it's nice to see so many Aussies still involved in county cricket. I think it's a wonderful system you have over here in the UK. I have fond memories of playing county cricket at Hampshire, and hopefully one day I'll get the opportunity to come back and play again. It's good to see so many Australians involved over here.

Are you sorry to see the Champions Trophy going, and what would it mean to be the last team with your name on it?
It would be very special, that's for sure. Yeah, look, I think it's a tournament that Australians have loved playing in. We've had some success, and it would be a great way for us to finish, I guess, to win it one more time. Obviously there's going to be a test championship, which is very exciting, as well, but yeah, I'd love nothing more than to win this last ICC Champions Trophy.  

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