Brisbane: Australia's Mitchell Johnson said Tuesday the ongoing speculation about captain Michael Clarke's fitness was not proving a distraction for the World Cup favourites.
Mitchell Johnson. Pic/AFP
Clarke's hamstring injury meant he was sidelined as co-hosts Australia launched their bid for a fifth World Cup title with an emphatic 111-run thrashing of arch-rivals England in Melbourne on Saturday. However, it is expected Clarke will be fit enough to return for Australia's second Pool B match against Bangladesh in Brisbane this coming Saturday following an encouraging display during last week's practice match against the United Arab Emirates.
Stand-in skipper George Bailey, long tipped to make way for Clarke, did his best to make life awkward for Australia's selectors by making a useful fifty against England. But fast bowler Johnson said he'd be delighted to see Clarke back in the side, although he did not know which player would make way for the star batsman.
"I love the captaincy that he (Clarke) brings," Johnson said. "He has got so much experience and George does as well. "But Michael Clarke has been the captain for a number of years now. I know he has the boys' full support." Johnson stressed there were no lingering concerns about Clarke's fitness and that the debate about what role the skipper would play in the World Cup had not been an issue for the rest of the squad.
"I know that he is ready to go," Johnson said. "But I don't know from a playing point of view what the plan is. "He is doing what he needs to do. He is not making it a distraction for us. Whenever that chance is when he gets back in we will be ready for him." In normal circumstances, talk of changing a winning side after such a convincing victory in the first match of a major tournament would be regarded as unnecessary and Johnson said dropping anyone from the team following Australia's display at the Melbourne Cricket Ground would be tough.
"It will be," he said. "It was a pretty short meeting after the game (against England) -- it was pretty good," he said. "But we can always get better at certain things (like) not lose wickets so closely together. (But) the fielding was outstanding throughout that innings. If we can keep that intensity up I think we are going to have confidence throughout this tournament."