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Oz refocus on ODIs ahead of World Cup

Australian players celebrated their VB Series win as selectors continued to experiment with the team line-up ahead of World Cup.

india Updated: Feb 15, 2006 12:21 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Australia's cricketers celebrated their crushing win in the one-day series against Sri Lanka and South Africa on Wednesday, as national selectors continued to experiment with the team line-up ahead of next year's World Cup.

The world champions had faced criticism recently over the decision to rest key players from some games during the triangular series and for some patchy performances with the bat and in the field.

"I think people questioned whether we were even interested in trying to win this, you know, maybe focusing too much on the World Cup," vice-captain Adam Gilchrist said of the series at a post-match press conference.

"Well, we've won it, so those people can rest easy."

Gilchrist was backed up by captain Ricky Ponting who said the team had come together to win the second and third finals against Sri Lanka after losing the opening final in Adelaide by 22 runs.

"We've been heading in the right direction for a while now with our one-day cricket and Adelaide was a bit of a shock to everybody I think," he said.

"But the way we've bounced back after that has been of the highest class and the highest calibre. The cricket's been unbelievably good really.

"It's satisfying sitting here now after being tested being 1-0 down to come and play the cricket we have when it's really counted."

Gilchrist showed stellar form in the final, smashing 122 off 91 balls for the fastest one-day hundred by an Australian to help his team cruise to the 267 target set by Sri Lanka at the Gabba in Brisbane.

Opener Simon Katich hauled in 107 for the nine-wicket win, ensuring his place on the team to tour South Africa later this month.

Debate over the national one-day side has raged for weeks with some calling for the recall of experienced bowlers Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz and others arguing hotly for the inclusion of young batsman Phil Jaques.

In a column in Wednesday's Sydney Morning Herald, commentator Peter Roebuck said despite Australia's superb core players, the team suffered several "soft spots."

"No team containing Ponting, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Michael Hussey and Brett Lee need fear any opponent," he said.

But, he adds: "Australia have several vulnerable areas that demand attention or else the World Cup will be lost."

The main area of concern is the bowling line-up, which could potentially be without paceman Glenn McGrath for some time as he remains in Australia while his wife battles cancer.

Spin legend Shane Warne has repeatedly said he has no intention of rejoining the one-day team.

"Apart from Lee, none of those present can produce that searing spell or deadly delivery that can turn a match on its head," Roebuck said.

Meanwhile, the top order bats have displayed patchy performances, too often leaving the middle order to save the day.

Chair of the national selection committee Trevor Hohns admitted to taking a gamble on Wednesday when he recalled left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Johnson to the team to tour South Africa.

"We want to give him a little bit more experience and encouragement of course, as a young player and hopefully a young star on the horizon," Hohns told reporters.

"He certainly has the package. He can bat, he can field and obviously he can bowl and that's what we look for in one-day cricket."

Also included is allrounder Shane Watson who returns from a three-month break due to shoulder surgery while Brett Dorey and James Hopes are out after failing to excel during the triangular home series.

First Published: Feb 15, 2006 11:56 IST