Australia want to be No 1-ranked ODI team: Steve Rixon

Steve Rixon (above) will be Australia’s coach for their tour of India in 2013 as Darren Lehmann was given a break © Getty Images

Mumbai: Oct 7, 2013

Their focus on the number one spot up for grabs in the upcoming One-Day International (ODI) series against India, Australian captain George Bailey and coach Steve Rixon said the visitors are no longer intimidated by the sub-continental conditions courtesy the exposure they have got through the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The Aussies will start the tour with a one-off Twenty20 International in Rajkot on October 10 followed by seven ODIs.

“If you look at the tournament, it is not just a tournament but a chance to be No 1 in the world in one of the three formats,” said Rixon at the first media conference of the squad after its arrival in Mumbai on Saturday.

“So, it is very important to the players, the coaching staff and Cricket Australia (CA). At the end of the day, we want to sit back and want to be part of the number one side,” he added.

If Australia win the series handsomely, they will go over India to become the world’s No 1 ranked ODI team and if the hosts win they will retain their top spot.

Going into the intense contest against India, both Rixon and team captain Bailey saw the advantage of having quite a few squad members with the Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) exposure.

“Yes, we do know a few players that certainly I think one of the great things about the IPL, over the years. We have played at a lot of grounds that we are about to play at. Most of our players have played with and against a lot of Indian players, vice-versa, they have played with a lot of us,” said Bailey who is leading the squad in the absence of injured regular ODI captain Michael Clarke.

“We know a lot about strengths and weaknesses and lot about the personalities, so there is absolutely some advantage for both the teams but also some areas to try and exploit,” added Bailey who played for Chennai Super Kings, led by India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, in CLT20.

Rixon, a part of the support staff of CSK as its fielding coach, agreed with his captain, adding the squad still had plenty of work to do to get the better of the ICC World Cup and Champions Trophy holders.

“It’s all very well knowing the players but also knowing that you combat those players having just spent time in the Champions League. To see the likes of Suresh Raina, the way he is playing, the likes of Dhoni, the way he is playing, and even to a degree Ravichandran Ashwin. You still have to be able to combat that,” Rixon said.

“We still have got plenty of homework to do but the advantage as George rightfully said, we get to see them regularly now. We actually have more chance combating them.”

Rixon said the plus point for his team is that five of the players figured for their respective franchises in Sunday’s CLT20 2013 final between eventual winners and IPL champions Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals.

“Coming into a tournament like this, you need performance players. A lot of the Indian players, in fact all of the Indians, would have played in the previous tournament so that has got to be an advantage for everyone playing.

“We have been fortunate to have five in the final, so to us, we are in a reasonable position as well. End result is, the guys who haven’t been playing a lot of cricket, get them up to speed for the remaining, leading up to the T20 and the one-dayers. Once that happens, it’s an even contest,” he said.

Both Rixon and Bailey rued the absence of Clarke, who was ruled out of the tour due to his back problem.

“You take Dhoni out, that probably answers your question,” said Rixon candidly, while Bailey said, “We would love to have Michael here.”