SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia can win the Twenty20 World Cup this month, test captain Michael Clarke said on Thursday, even if they are ranked ninth in the world and will have to do it without him.
Clarke quit the shortest form of the game after the final match of the 2010-11 Ashes debacle and will spend the next two months preparing for a three-match series against top-ranked test side South Africa by playing for New South Wales.
In his absence, Australia slumped below Ireland in the Twenty20 rankings after successive defeats to Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, before rising back above their pool stage rivals with a 94-run win in the third match on Monday.
“I think we can win the Twenty20 World Cup,” Clarke told reporters on Thursday.
“We’ve got the talent and we showed that in the last game against Pakistan in the UAE, and I think we’ve showed it in patches over the last couple of years.”
Clarke said he had watched all three Twenty20 matches on television after returning from the 2-1 win over Pakistan in a 50-over series and said although rankings did not tell the whole story, they did indicate there was plenty of work to do.
“It’s different for the Australian team but I guess it shows we haven’t performed as well as we need to in that form of the game,” he added.
“We need to turn that around and what better time than at the World Cup.”
Australia, losing finalists at the last Twenty20 World Cup in 2010, have been grouped with Ireland and West Indies in the opening stage of the fourth version of the tournament, which takes place in Sri Lanka from September 18 to October 7.
The 31-year-old said he remained in phone contact with coach Mickey Arthur, captain George Bailey and vice captain Shane Watson but had no regrets about having given up the format.
“I‘m really focused on trying to get my head back around test cricket,” he said. (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by John O‘Brien)