Clarke fit for Ashes series

2010-11-24 07:33
Michael Clarke (AFP)

Brisbane - Australia batsman Michael Clarke is fit to start the first Ashes Test against England on Thursday but fast bowler Doug Bollinger will miss out, captain Ricky Ponting said on Wednesday.

Clarke, who has been suffering from a recurrence of a back problem that has dogged him for much of his career, missed a Sheffield Shield match last week and training on Monday, casting doubt on his participation in the Brisbane Test.

"Michael Clarke's got through his work particularly well in the last few days, had a long solid session in the nets today so he's come through pretty well and Dougie's the unlucky quick who misses out," Ponting told a news conference, and in effect naming his team, on the eve of the first Test.

Uncapped batsman Usman Khawaja, who was brought into the squad as cover for Clarke, will be released along with Bollinger providing the chosen eleven make it through the warm-up on Thursday morning.

The 29-year-old Clarke, who has scored 4 549 runs in 64 tests since making his debut in 2004, returned to training on Tuesday and on Wednesday morning had a net session at the Gabba.

"We don't want to go in with a cloud hanging over anyone," Ponting added. "That was why he was asked to do as much batting as he did on Tuesday ... and Wednesday.

"I wouldn't have thought there was any risk involved at all. It's a big game for us to go in at the start of the series. We couldn't afford to leave any stone unturned."

Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle will form Australia's three-strong pace attack on what is expected to be a lively wicket.

Bollinger had been confident of making his Ashes debut but the side strain he suffered on the recent tour of India had prevented his return to first class cricket until last week.

"Lack of bowling in the last few weeks has been as much to do with it as anything," said Ponting.

"Also this attack, when it was together and bowling well, had good success in South Africa and at different times in England in the last series.

"We feel that this attack is going to be good enough to take us 20 wickets here at the Gabba."

Left-armer Xavier Doherty will make his test debut as Australia's specialist spinner in Brisbane, receiving his baggy green cap from Ponting on Thursday morning.

"He's bowled a lot over the last few days, he's very excited. He's a pretty level headed guy and knows his own strengths and weaknesses," said Ponting.

"He'll stick to those over the five days and I'm sure he'll do a good job for the team."

Team - Simon Katich, Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey, Marcus North, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle, Xavier Doherty.

Read more on:    ashes  |  ricky ponting  |  michael clarke

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