Clarke confident as Ashes loom large

2015-06-30 05:00
Michael Clarke. (AP)

London - Australia captain Michael Clarke believes his players are building up to their defence of the Ashes in just the right style after opening their tour with a convincing victory over Kent.

Clarke's men now face Essex in another four-day match, starting on Wednesday, before commencing the defence of the Ashes they won 5-0 on home soil in 2013/14 in Cardiff next week.

In Canterbury, Australia beat Kent by 255 runs in a match featuring hundreds for the Marsh brothers, Shaun and Mitchell, as well as star batsman Steven Smith.

Veteran opener Chris Rogers and all-rounder Shane Watson both spent time in the middle as well, while fast bowler Mitchell Johnson looked sharp in taking four wickets in Kent's first innings, with fellow-paceman Ryan Harris also producing some lively spells.

For all their recent success, Australia have not won an Ashes series in Britain since 2001, but Clarke reckons they will be well-prepared to end a run of three straight away Ashes series reverses on this tour.

"There was a lot of positives that came out of the (Kent) game. First thing, we won, and that was really important for us as a team, to get out and get a first win in the UK," Clarke told Sky Sports on Monday.

"Individually guys got what they needed as well.

"It is a good start and now we have the opportunity to play against Essex, hopefully with the same result.

"We're trying to work that perfect balance as a team leading up to that first Test, where I have always believed tour games are important to play to win to get some momentum and confidenc and then to get individuals a bat, for them to have a bowl.

"So you will have seen us change our batting order in the second innings, but our result was still what we wanted."

Australia against England has been the foundation stone of Test cricket since the two countries first clashed in 1877 and 34-year-old batsman Clarke was well aware of the importance of the upcoming five-match series.

"It is a really exciting part of what comes with Ashes cricket; the build-up, the media, the public anticipation. I think that's great for any series," he said.

"Being an Australian player or an English player, Ashes at home or away, that's a big part of the package. It's great for the game but as a player you don't need to build up the Ashes.

"The public and the media are going to build it up for you, so for us it's about ensuring you are focused on what's important right now - and that's our preparation."

Read more on:    ashes  |  michael clarke  |  cricket

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