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 Michael Clarke, the vice-captain.
Clarke stood in for Ricky Ponting in the first of three matches against Sri Lanka in Melbourne on Wednesday, when a record ninth-wicket stand helped the tourists claim a remarkable one-wicket win.
Sri Lanka all-rounder Angelo Mathews (77 not out) and the fast bowler Lasith Malinga (56), hit 132 off 110 balls as the tourists won after tottering at 107 for eight.
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 win 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 said.
"To lose a game from that position is very disappointing, 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 tail-enders."
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 today.
A cause for concern for Clarke was the sparse crowd in Melbourne, 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.
Results in last 6 matches
Nov 3 ODI: Lost to SL by 1 wkt
Oct 31 T20: Lost to SL by 7 wkts
Oct 20 ODI: Lost to India by 5 wkts
Oct 13 Test: Lost to India by 7 wkts
Oct 5 Test: Lost to India by 1 wkt
Jul 24 Test: Lost to Pak by 3 wkts