The Ashes 2009 May 10, 2009

Symonds gains Ashes backing from Clarke

Cricinfo staff

Michael Clarke would support Andrew Symonds' reintroduction to the Test team as Australia fight to erase the memories of their 2005 Ashes defeat during the upcoming series. Clarke, the vice-captain, was part of the loss and the quick recapture of the urn in 2006-07, a series where Symonds made a lasting mark.

However, Symonds' position for the five-match series, which starts in Cardiff on July 8, is in doubt - the squad will be named in the next two weeks - following a season of off-field troubles and poor form. He was recalled for the limited-overs engagements in Pakistan, but his struggles with the bat led to Darren Berry, the former Victoria captain, calling him "Australia's luckiest ever cricketer".

"The recent series against Pakistan surely must have been his last chance," Berry wrote in the Sunday Age. "Hitting 82 runs in five innings at an average of 16 is unacceptable."

However, Clarke was satisfied with Symonds' all-round performance during the tour. "He was great to have back around the group in Dubai recently,'' Clarke told the Sunday Telegraph. "Obviously his batting form wasn't as good as what he would've liked, but he brings more to the table than just batting.

"Having him around the group is a very positive thing for Australian cricket. He's coming to the Twenty20 tournament, so I guess that's another opportunity to stake a claim for the Ashes. I'd definitely support him if he was selected.''

The Test series is an important one for Australia as they look to build on their success over South Africa and secure their first win in England since 2001. "It's a huge tour and something as a kid you always look forward to," Clarke said. "From 2007, I've got some really fond memories and what I would like to do is play as well as we did in Australia over in English conditions. It doesn't matter which team you play, it's always harder in their own conditions.

"They're going to be tough. It was real tough in 2005 and I think a lot of the guys have memories of that.''

Clarke hoped the players would have their wives and girlfriends with them during stages of the tour. The partners will be able to attend the team's camp in Queensland from May 24 and Clarke said it was important for families to be together.

"How can you have a relationship if you don't see someone for six months? We'll [Clarke and his fiancée Lara Bingle] sit down over the next couple of weeks and make a plan, but I'm pretty sure at some stage she'll be over there because the last thing we want is to be away from each other.''

Clarke stood in for the resting Ricky Ponting during the one-day series win in Dubai, but came home a few days early for some extra rest. "Being away does get challenging," he told the Sun-Herald. "When you're on the road the public might just see you playing cricket on TV every few days. But on the days you're not playing you still have to train, do media, rehab, recovery ... so, coming home is a good opportunity to catch up on things."