Australia will play two English county teams and a one-day international against Ireland before facing fourth-ranked England in five ODIs. -Photo by Reuters

SYDNEY: Australia's limited-overs tour of England and Ireland represents the start of a two-year campaign to make them the top nation in all three forms of the game, captain Michael Clarke said Thursday.

Australia head the one-day ratings, but are third in the Test standings and sixth in the T20 format.

“We've been the number one ODI team in the world for a while now but we need to continue to raise the bar,” Clarke said before the one-day international squad's departure on Thursday.

“I think our cricket of late in the shorter form hasn't been as consistent as we would like.

“I think once we get on the plane it's probably the start of a two-year journey for this Australian team, whether it be the one-day team, the Test team or the Twenty20 team, to have a lot of success and get back to being the number one in all forms of the game.”

Australia will play two English county teams and a one-day international against Ireland before facing fourth-ranked England in five ODIs.

Clarke said he had been surprised by England batsman Kevin Pietersen's recent retirement from ODIs.

“I'm thrilled I don't have to play against him in one-day cricket because he's such a good player and he's had a lot of success and he's a natural in it,” Clarke said.

“But England have a lot of good players in their team.”

Clarke nominated David Hussey to fill the batting role of innings closer and pacer of run-chases in the absence of his elder brother Michael, who withdrew from the tour for family reasons following the premature birth of his fourth child.

Clarke said he was confident that a pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the players would be resolved this month and said the last thing he wanted to do would be to go on strike.

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