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Michael Clarke looks on during a news conference. The Australia captain says he has returned to fitness in time to participate in the Ashes series.
Michael Clarke looks on during a news conference. The Australia captain says he has returned to fitness in time to participate in the Ashes series.

Cricket: Michael Clarke says he is good to go for Ashes

Vice-captain Brad Haddin confirms that Australia's captain is fit to face England, and that there is no sense discussing Mickey Arthur's ouster as coach.

Captain Michael Clarke has confirmed his fitness and will lead Australia in the four-day tour match against Somerset, starting Wednesday.

Vice-captain Brad Haddin confirmed as much after the tourists first training session under new coach Darren Lehmann at the County Ground, Taunton, Tuesday morning.

"Michael is definitely playing against Somerset, which is great news," Haddin said. "It is the first match of an Ashes tour and the Australian captain is pretty excited about being involved.

"He is in a good spot. He had a good catching session this morning and a bit of a hit, although I didn't see much of that as I was in the net beside him."

Haddin said that the Australia team to face Somerset would be: Ed Cowan, Shane Watson, Usman Khawaja, Phillip Hughes, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, James Faulkner, Nathan Lyon, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc.

"That's the side we have decided to go with. We wanted to give this group a hit," said Haddin. "Chris Rogers has been playing a lot of cricket over the past couple of months, so he is already in pretty good touch.

"I can't say what the batting order will be because I don't know. I could guess, but we will let Michael decide that on the day of the game."

Inevitably, Haddin was asked about the decision to sack Mickey Arthur and appoint Lehmann as coach just over two weeks before the start of the Ashes.

"We've had a change of coach, but we don't want to dwell on what has gone on before because that is of no benefit to anyone," Haddin said. "Our job is to move forward and play some cricket. Training was good and sharp, so the new coach got a tick today. Darren is a good person, who loves the game of cricket and talking about it."

Asked about morale in the camp following the change, Haddin said: "It wasn't hard to have a smile on your face today. It's the first day of an Ashes campaign so it was obvious the guys would be in good spirits.

"It was really just a top-up day leading into our four-day game tomorrow. It was short and sharp and we got out of it what we needed. This is the most exciting tour you can possibly play on.

"The whole theatre around an Ashes series so you don't need any further motivation for the first training session."


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