Michael Clarke praises England captain Eoin Morgan ahead of Cricket World Cup semi-final

Eoin Morgan
Eoin Morgan

Australia's 2015 World Cup-winning captain Michael Clarke has praised the way England skipper Eoin Morgan has handled the increased pressure of being tournament favourites on home soil.

Clarke lifted the trophy four years ago when Australia co-hosted with New Zealand, eventually thrashing their Antipodean rivals in the final in Melbourne.

That was to be his last one-day international, retiring altogether following Ashes defeat later that summer, and Clarke understands the pressure on Morgan's shoulders.

"I know how Eoin is feeling. At the time you're probably not fully aware of the pressure because there's so much expectation from within, but when I look back now, there was a lot more expectation for sure," Clarke said in an interview reported by The Times.

"You are the favourites, you're the number one ranked team, and every game you play it is assumed you will win.

"He's handled things really well, particularly a couple of losses he's had to deal with. I was impressed with the way he spoke afterwards and the way the team didn't change their approach."

Australia's surprise defeat on Saturday to long-since-eliminated South Africa means that Aaron Finch's side slipped to second in the final group standings, behind India, and will face England in the second semi-final at Edgbaston.

The loss to the Proteas featured a third century of the tournament for opener David Warner who, like former captain Steve Smith, has returned from a year-long ban for his role in Australia's ball-tampering scandal.

Clarke has been impressed with the way the pair have returned to the fold.

"They are very different personalities, Davey (Warner) will embrace any banter - he'll take a catch and wind up the crowd," Clarke said.

"If they're booing him, he'll be like, 'Louder, I can't hear you'.

"Whereas Smithy will hope that it just fades away. And if he's making runs then it will. That will be his focus.

"I've been proud of how they took responsibility for their actions. Whether they agreed with the punishment, they accepted it and deserve credit for that.

"I hope that the Australian fans have forgiven them, because everybody deserves a second chance. As big as it was, in the sport that we love, they haven't murdered anybody, and they deserve to be in this Australian team.

"Redemption might come if they win the World Cup. Win the Ashes and that might be the icing on the cake."

Clarke, who admits he found the role of captain difficult to cope with at times, has taken up a role with the Movember Foundation to promote men's health.

"There are more suicides in cricket than any other sport and I want to try and educate young boys particularly, but also young girls, about the highs and lows that come with sport," he said.

"Parents and kids need to know what comes with playing sport at the highest level, that even with somebody you believe has been successful, there are times when they hit rock bottom and need guidance."

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