25 Nov 2010

Clarke fit for Ashes opener

5:51 am on 25 November 2010

The Australian cricket team's vice-captain Michael Clarke has been passed fit for the opening match of the 5-test Ashes series against England, starting today at the Gabba in Brisbane.

The two players cut from their squad of 13 were pace bowler Doug Bollinger and batsman Usman Khawaja, brought in to cover for Clarke who'd been struggling with the recurrence of an old back problem.

England are favourites to retain the Ashes, and the Australian captain Ricky Ponting is keen to avoid the ignominy of being the first Australian captain to lose three Ashes series.

England won't be revealing their playing eleven until just before play starts.

Australia haven't lost a test in Brisbane since 1988 and the Gabba curator believes his pitch will still provide first-day fireworks and more on the second day.