|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
June 25, 2013
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 hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
|Comments have now been closed for this article
The serene team culture cultivated by Misbah and his men shouldn't be allowed to be disrupted by a player with a tainted past
An early start to the international season, coupled with costly tickets, have kept the Australian public away from the cricket
Mahela Jayawardene reflects on his Test career, and the need to bridge the gap between international and club cricket in Sri Lanka
In 2011, MS Dhoni helped end a 28-year wait for India and gifted Sachin Tendulkar something he had craved throughout his career - to be called a World Cup champion
Coloured clothes, black sightscreens, two white balls: the game of cricket looked so different in 1992. But writing about it now seems more fun than watching it then
The sickening blow that struck Phillip Hughes is a reminder of the ever-present dangers associated with facing fast bowlers, even while wearing a helmet
Never mind cricket's absence from free-to-air TV - changes in social attitudes, the demands of work, and an individualistic age are all contributing to a decline in participation