Somerset v Australians, Taunton

Clarke, Faulkner in for Somerset match

Daniel Brettig in Taunton

June 25, 2013

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Michael Clarke at a sponsorship announcement in Sydney, May 15, 2013
Michael Clarke returns to the Australian side after a three-month lay-off © Getty Images
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To the tangible relief of the tour party, not to mention half of Australia, captain Michael Clarke is fit to play in his side's first warm-up match ahead of the Investec Ashes Tests, while Darren Lehmann's coaching residency has begun aggressively as promised with the selection of five bowlers.

Clarke trained freely at the County Ground in Taunton on Tuesday morning, and vice-captain Brad Haddin said there had been no indication of the back trouble that forced Clarke to stay in London, away from the team, during a horrid and dysfunctional Champions Trophy tilt that sealed the fate of the former coach Mickey Arthur.

"Michael's playing," Haddin said. "It's great news, first game on tour and the Australian captain's pretty excited. He's in a good spot, he had a good catch and a bit of a net. It's our first day on tour, and it's not hard to get up for an Ashes campaign. This is the first day. If you can't have a smile on your face and be excited about what lies ahead, you're never going to be up for a cricket contest. Morale's good."

Chris Rogers was made to wait another week for his chance to play for Australia once more, but Haddin said this was largely as a result of his abundance of time in the middle over recent months for Middlesex.

"That's the side we've decided to go for in this practice game, we've got another one just before the Test and it was important that we wanted to give this group a hit," Haddin said. "It makes sense that Chris has been playing a lot of cricket over the last couple of months so he's in pretty good touch."

James Faulkner's inclusion is perhaps the most significant choice in the XI for the match against Somerset, as it opens up the possibility of Australia making full use of their major strength by choosing an extra bowler at the expense of a relatively mediocre collection of batsmen. Faulkner's confidence and poise has impressed many members of the squad.

"I'm not going to think about where I'm going to bat or bowl," Faulkner said this week. "The games I've played so far in domestic cricket, I've batted everywhere, so it's just a matter of when you get told where you're batting you get your head around what your job is and do it the best you can. You don't think about fifties or hundreds or five-fors or anything like that, just go out there and play your natural game and back your preparation.

"I feel a bit of responsibility I suppose and in any game I play in as an allrounder, you know you're going to be in the game and you know there's going to be moments when you have to step up. There's going to be times when things don't go to plan as well."

Among Somerset's XI will be Nick Compton, now effectively deposed as a Test opener by Joe Root's selection ahead of him in England's team for a pre-Ashes fixture against Essex. Not that this was any concern of Haddin. "I haven't seen their squad and my job's to make sure we're ready to go tomorrow and get ourselves right for these first two practice games," he said. "I'm not here to second guess who's in their team and who's not."

Ryan Harris and Jackson Bird were left out after their return from injuries for Australia A against Gloucestershire in Bristol, though there are no concerns over their fitness.

Australians squad: Michael Clarke (capt), Ed Cowan, Usman Khawaja, Shane Watson, Phillip Hughes, James Faulkner, Brad Haddin (wk), Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by shuvo_bba on (July 1, 2013, 11:12 GMT)

Where is Ryan Harris ? He will certainly do well aganist English batters in windy conditions.

Posted by gangulys. on (June 27, 2013, 4:20 GMT)

My team for australia..Clarke(C),Ed cowan,warner,watson,hughes,haddin+,faulkner,starc,pattinson,lyon,siddle....

Posted by   on (June 26, 2013, 19:01 GMT)

Finally, why is Steve Smith not playing here? The lad was building up some good momentum, he's been added to the squad and surely far more likely to play than Faulkner in the tests? We need so desperately form batsmen to stand up, the guy just gets onto his feet and then he is left out? I just don't understand any of it! There is just too much random opportunity and not enough focussed effort on the top say 12-13 guys who'll actually be playing in the first couple of tests. There needs to be decisions taken as to who is in the best xi and then give them every chance to perform, its all too whishy washy what Invers and co are doing right now, no-one knows there role, feels secure in their place or has the confidence that they are going to still be there after the first two matches, it's a joke!

Posted by   on (June 26, 2013, 18:45 GMT)

@ScottStevo, once again I find myself in strenous agreement with your good self! I have no idea what we are trying to do here, the time for experimentation is surely over, just 2 weeks before kick-off in the main game and we still have no idea what our best xi is? If they are going to open now with Watto, where does that leave him as a bowling option? Where does it leave Rogers, who I would have thought would be a walk up start? Why on earth is Rogers not playing and trying to build up some sort of combination with the other top order batsmen? Its not like Hughes and Cowan are stellar between the wickets, they need to get accustomed to each other now! I also sincerely hope that they've decided on Patto, Siddle and Starc as the starting line up for the first test, if not then they are leaving Harris and or Bird awfully short of work. Why is Faulkner playing here? Is he a realistic option as 3rd seamer or to hold down the no.6 batting spot? At this stage it would be no and no!

Posted by colc on (June 26, 2013, 13:06 GMT)

Not going that well so far for our colonial cousins..................

Posted by ScottStevo on (June 26, 2013, 12:59 GMT)

How many people with such flawed logic, batting is our weakness and bowling our strength, so take away a batsman and add a bowler because if 5 blokes can't get the job done, 6 will! Seriously?!?! We're struggling to score 200 every other innings and we think that a 6th bowler will help the situation? I'm reading that the bowlers are all pretty handy with the bat, their runs are what's known as bonus runs - nice to get them, but don't rely on them. As in, if we're 5-150 chasing 300, I'd be backing us to lose as these aren't the guys meant to be puting runs up and will fold every time. Before you say 6th bowler, As it stands we will start with 4 bowlers and we will definitely use watson as a 5th front line bowler. If we start any test match with less than 6 specialist batsmen, we'll have lost before a ball is bowled. Even when Gilly was keeping, he batted at 7, why on Earth would u think anyone better can bat 6? Someone said Wade as specialist batsmen - deluded, he shouldn't even be here

Posted by satishchandar on (June 26, 2013, 11:32 GMT)

The Australian think-tank should look to maintain same composition.. Play Haddin at 6 and leave bowler who can bat at 7.. It may be Faulkner/Starc/Mitch/Pattinson but someone need to play at 7 even if it is higher for them.. All the likes of them can bat and even Siddle and Agar can bat well.. Honestly on current form, the tail of Aussies can do better job than top order.. that is what they did in the Indian tour.. Aussies MUST play Khawaja till he ends up like Hughes.. Allow him to fail atleast.. My 11 would be, Cowan, Watson, Hughes(No other option??), Clarke, Khawaja, Haddin, Siddle, Faulkner, Starc, Pattinson and Lyon.. Aussies look woefully short of practice till now and it would require big slice of change of fortune from Boof to cause a turnaround and stop a one sided Ashes!!

Posted by KGY27 on (June 26, 2013, 10:34 GMT)

I'm glad Darren Lehman is our new coach. He's a down to earth and level headed thinker who will bring that simplicity back into the side. The game against Somerset will be interesting and it would be great to see our batsmen put their heads down, work hard and get the desired results. The poms are so cocky and I guess they have a right to be but they struggled against NZ ( who's batting was just tragic) which is why the Aussies are in with a chance now.

Posted by Munkeymomo on (June 26, 2013, 10:27 GMT)

As someone who didn't get an Ashes ticket, I'm just looking forwards to seeing the Aussies! Hope our cidermen can give 'em a good warm up!

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Daniel BrettigClose
Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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