Oz must forget the Ashes and focus on form: Clarke

Updated: Nov 04, 2010, 09:44 AM IST

Abu Dhabi: Ailing Australia need to forget about the upcoming Ashes series and concentrate on getting back to their best form in the one-day series against Sri Lanka, according to vice captain Michael Clarke.

Clarke stood in for skipper Ricky Ponting in the first of three matches against Sri Lanka at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, when a record ninth wicket stand helped the tourists fight back to claim a remarkable victory by one wicket.

It was the sixth successive defeat for Australia in all forms of cricket and Clarke was particularly upset with his team`s inability to close out the victory from a strong position.

"The Ashes is great, everybody`s looking forward to it but we need to be focused on what`s in front of us because right now, we`re not playing our best cricket and we need to be," Clarke told the Cricket Australia website.

"To lose a game from that position is very disappointing. What hurts the most is it`s not the first time it`s happened."

"We got so close again and we couldn`t finish the game off, which is an issue we`ve had for a while now in all three forms of the game.

"If we`re good enough to execute our plans and get the top order out, I don`t see any reason why we can`t do it to the tailenders."

With the England squad already in Western Australia preparing for the start of the first Ashes test in Brisbane on Nov. 25, the defeat did nothing to improve the mood in the increasingly critical Australian media.

"Aussies discover new way to lose," read the headline in Thursday`s The Australian newspaper, while the Daily Telegraph had: "Aussie cricketers lose the unlosable".

"Once again Australia could not polish off a wounded opponent," English columnist Peter Roebuck wrote.

"Far from celebrating an encouraging victory, the Aussies found themselves suffering an astonishing defeat. Far from returning to the winning habit they snatched defeat from victory`s very jaw."

Ponting, who missed Wednesday`s match to attend his grandmother`s funeral, will be back for the second one-dayer against Sri Lanka in Sydney on Friday.

Another cause for concern for Clarke was the sparse crowd at the MCG on Wednesday, and the preponderance of Sri Lanka supporters among the 19,000 fans who did turn up.

"Hopefully we can get some Australian support (in Sydney) because right now, we could really do with it," Clarke said.

Bureau Report