Australia in SA

Clarke: SA deserved it

2011-10-24 14:26
Michael Clarke (AP)

Port Elizabeth - Australia had no excuses for their poor performance against South Africa in the second one-day international (ODI) in Port Elizabeth on Sunday, according to touring captain Michael Clarke.

The Baggy Greens lost by 80 runs as the Proteas levelled the three-match series at 1-1, and Clarke said the hosts had deserved their victory.

"We have no excuses. We were outplayed and South Africa deserved full credit," Clarke said.

After walloping the Proteas by 93 runs in Centurion last week, Australia produced some poor cricket all round and, not to undermine South Africa's top-class performance, the visitors succumbed in a manner not often seen here before.

"I think they executed their plans really well, hit the areas and bowled with discipline - the opposite of what we did," Clarke said.

"Full credit to South Africa. They outplayed us in all facets of the game - with the bat, the ball and in the field - and probably made 40 runs more than they should have."

Clarke admitted it had not helped their cause when both he and Ricky Ponting went out cheaply at the top of the order.

"I think the wicket played really well but, with the lights, it was hard to see ball," he said.

They were, however, not making excuses and needed to up their game ahead of the third and final match of the series in Durban on Friday.

"We have to improve, no doubt. We weren't good enough and we know you've got to be at your best to beat them in their own backyard."

The Australians suffered a setback during the match when all-rounder Shane Watson, only just back in the side after a recent hip injury, pulled up in the middle of bowling his fourth over.

He missed the second Twenty20 match and the first ODI and he left the field in agony, experiencing back spasms.

Watson did not return to the field and, as a result, came in down the order to bat at number six instead of opening the innings.

Clarke had said earlier in the week that Watson was a vital cog in their Test team and they did not want to risk him unless he was fully fit.

He was, however, hopeful Watson would be available for Friday's crunch game.

"It was a very positive sign that he went out and batted, so that was a very good sign for us and I'm very confident he will be fine for Friday's game," the skipper said.

"It wasn't great at the time for it to happen, but that's our bodies I guess."

Clarke admitted they had been a little surprised at former SA captain Graeme Smith's return to form, with the opener making 57 runs after he had been chastised by the media and booed by spectators at all the grounds so far on Australia's tour.

"He played well and hit some nice cover drives," Clarke said.

"We certainly didn't expect it. He had some luck along the way but it was a good fifty and he scored pretty freely and quite quickly, so that's a positive sign for him."

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