Sydney: Skipper Michael Clarke says Australia will prove their critics wrong and bring the urn home from England despite his team being panned as the "worst Ashes squad". Clarke has backed his 16-man party named on Wednesday to do the job in five Tests against England, starting at Nottingham's Trent Bridge ground on July 10.
Sections of the British press have slammed Clarke's touring party with The Daily Mail declaring:" Aussies name worst Ashes squad in memory", adding gloatingly: "Is that it, Australia? Is that all you have got?" Clarke said the reaction does not surprise him following Australia's ignominious 4-0 Test series rout in India in March.
"It didn't come as much of a surprise when an English reporter described us as Australia's 'worst Ashes squad' at yesterday's team announcement," Clarke wrote in Sydney's Daily Telegraph on Thursday. "I've been hearing comments like that throughout my time as captain and, more often than not, I'd like to think we've proven our critics wrong.
"I'm not going to make any Glenn McGrath-style (5-0) predictions about the Ashes result, but I will say that I'm confident we can bring the urn home with us if we play to our potential." Clarke said his team will give England "due respect" in their home conditions but he added that Australia had selected a number of players who have succeeded playing in English conditions.
The skipper pointed to recalled opener Chris Rogers playing more than 100 games, scoring almost 10,000 runs and averaging close to 55 in England. "This is obviously a huge tour for Australian cricket and to be in a position to call a batsman into the squad with that kind of experience is a huge asset for us," Clarke said.
Clarke said paceman Ryan Harris also has the potential to make a big impact for the Australians and his style of bowling was well suited to English conditions. He added that veteran wicketkeeper Brad Haddin would not be burdened by the vice-captaincy or the intensity of an Ashes series and "absolutely loves the heat of battle".
The skipper also backed the younger players in his squad, highlighting uncapped all-rounder James Faulkner as a competitor who has taken 125 wickets at just over 22 in 34 first-class games for Tasmania.