Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Clarke remains positive of swift return to fitness

Michael Clarke went over his ankle on Monday
Michael Clarke went over his ankle on Monday

Australia captain Michael Clarke is confidently expecting to be fit for the second Ashes Test, despite missing training yesterday because of his sore right ankle.

Clarke went over awkwardly on his leg during fielding drills at the Adelaide Oval on Monday, but was able to bat in the nets afterwards.

He sat out morning practice a day later, but is planning to resume his preparation on the eve of the match.

Clarke's health also received a positive update from all-rounder Shane Watson – who reported he too is sufficiently recovered from his pre-series hamstring injury to take on full bowling duties here.

Asked about Clarke, Watson said: "It was more precautionary today.

"I know the medical staff are very confident they were just giving him a break today, and he'll be training flat out tomorrow ready to go for the Test."

Medium-pacer Watson was required to bowl only two overs – both, typically, maidens – as Australia trounced their English counterparts by 381 runs in the first Test at the Gabba.

But he will be able to get through "as many as the captain wants me to bowl" at a venue where it should take significantly longer to bag 20 England wickets.

Australia arrived in Adelaide three years ago having been unable to stop England closing out a stalemate in Brisbane, and then promptly shot themselves in the foot by stumbling to two for three on the first morning.

Watson warns they cannot be making those mistakes this time against opponents Australia still respect, despite their first-Test romp.

"We certainly experienced that in the Test here against England last time, losing quick wickets and making it very difficult to claw our way back.

"We know that's how important it is for us to be able to start well, whether we have to bat or bowl first.

"We know against England (we can) not have those lapses, because that's when we've lost Test matches and have not been able to stop that momentum.

"We're certainly very hungry," Watson continued. "We haven't enjoyed losing to the English over the last three series.

"There's been a number of us who have been involved in those series, and we're extremely driven to do whatever we possibly can to be able to win this Ashes series."

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