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Australia lineup for first Test very open: Michael Clarke

AFP
Feb 13, 2013 at 09:37am IST

Sydney: Australian captain Michael Clarke declared himself fighting fit as he left for India, saying the line-up for the first Test since the retirement of Michael Hussey was "very open".

Clarke, who missed the final one-day international against the West Indies in Melbourne with a hamstring strain, voiced confidence he would be ready for the first Test in Chennai on February 22.

"I don't think there's any doubt that I will be fit for the first Test match," he told reporters, adding that he hoped to play in the second opening tour game to get used to conditions on the subcontinent.

Australia lineup for first Test very open: Clarke

Michael Clarke also voiced confidence he would be ready for the first Test in Chennai on February 22.

"I think I've been lucky throughout my career to be honest, with the degeneration in my back, to have played 80-odd Test matches and not missed one is something I'm very proud of."

The skipper said it remained "very open" on who would play in the first Test, the first since Hussey called it quits which followed veteran Ricky Ponting's decision to retire late last year.

Clarke said the two opening tour games provided a good opportunity for the Australian players to prepare themselves for the tricky conditions they will face in the four-Test tour.

"There are 17 guys in the squad, we're all fighting for a spot -- unfortunately, you can only pick 11," he said.

"Runs and wickets (in the opening tour games) will certainly play a big part in picking the side. But for a lot of the guys it's more about preparation and seeing (Indian) conditions."

Selectors will be faced with where to place vice-captain Shane Watson, who returns from injury and who has put himself forward as an opener. "Obviously, Shane needs to come back into the line-up," Clarke said. "It's a lot different now that Watto is not bowling. As an allrounder, I think he walks into any team.

"As a batsman, there is a much bigger pool of players so we've got to work out what our best batting line-up is."

Clarke said David Warner and Ed Cowan, who opened for the Tests against South Africa and Sri Lanka, had "put their hand up against the No.1 Test team in the world (South Africa)".

"I think it's a really positive sign that we've got so many options in our squad," he said. Clarke, who made his Test debut with a century in India in 2004, said he would also be happy to bowl his off-spin.

"I'm more than happy to bowl as much as I need to bowl," he said.

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