‘It’s going to be a tough battle’, admits Michael Clarke

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“The boys are all extremely excited, there’s been a lot of talk since we’ve returned home from England about this series and I think all the boys are looking forward to finally getting out there tomorrow”

Australia captain Michael Clarke has acknowledged that the upcoming Ashes series will be “a tough battle” as England are just as determined as the baggy greens to win the Ashes.

Clarke, who still bears the mental scars of Australia’s 3-0 loss in England, stated that his side are determined to show England that they mean business and will fight to the end to regain the Ashes in front of their home crowd.

“The boys are all extremely excited, there’s been a lot of talk since we’ve returned home from England about this series and I think all the boys are looking forward to finally getting out there tomorrow,” he said. “There’s been a lot said in the build-up to this series, a lot of speculation about individual players, about teams and about how Australia is going to have success, how we are going to turn it around.

“But for us it’s about coming out and playing our best cricket in five Test matches and hopefully the result will take care of itself.

“It’s going to be a tough battle, like it was in England. We have to play our best cricket to have success no matter what conditions you play in. It’s nice to be playing in front of our own fans.”

Clarke also admitted that the final XI for the first Test in Brisbane has yet to be finalised as the national selectors are still debating over whether to include off-spinner Nathan Lyon and all-rounder James Faulkner.

“The selectors are probably talking about it as we speak so it’s probably a question for those guys,” Clarke said. “I can’t talk about the selection part of it, because I’m not having that conversation right now with the selectors but the wicket looks fantastic.

“I think it looks a really good pitch, I think it’s going to offer pace and bounce for the bowlers and that includes spin. I think spin’s had success at the Gabba because of the bounce rather than the spin.

“The Gabba is one of the best Test wickets in the world to play, it offers good pace and bounce and always keeps the bowlers interested and once you’re in it’s as good a place to bat as anywhere.”

The 32-year-old also noted that all-rounder Shane Watson has made excellent progress since injuring his hamstring and added that he should be fit enough to play a part with both the bat and ball during the first Test.

“I don’t think he’ll be 100 per cent and can bowl 25 overs in the first innings of a Test match,” Clarke said. “But as we’ve seen Watto’s improved every day and I’m really confident he’ll be able to bat at his best and do a job with the ball for us.”

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