As Australia and England get ready to lock horns in the much awaited Ashes 2013 series, here\'s a look at the players who will be Australia\'s men in charge heading into the historic tournament.
As Australia and England get ready to lock horns in the much awaited Ashes 2013 series, here's a look at the players who will be Australia's men in charge heading into the historic tournament.
Michael Clarke (Captain)
Age: 32 Tests: 92 Batting average: 52.33
Clarke's form with the bat since replacing Ricky Ponting as captain in 2011 has been little short of stupendous and Australia will need him at his very best if they have any chance of winning the series.
The man nicknamed 'Pup' became the first batsman to score four double-centuries in a calendar year in 2012, but with the retirements of veterans Ponting and Mike Hussey, enters the series under huge pressure to maintain the form and anchor his team's raw and often brittle batting lineup.
A flare-up of a long-term back injury has made the captain's task even stiffer, disrupting his preparations and sidelining him for the entire Champions Trophy.
Brad Haddin (Vice-Captain)
Age: 35 Tests: 44 Batting average: 35.50, Dismissals: 164 catches, five stumpings
A tough competitor with a sure pair of hands and capable of blistering counter-attacks with the bat, Haddin has regained his place as Australia's first-choice wicketkeeper in a move designed to inject badly-needed experience in the Australian dressing room as much as to replace the struggling Matthew Wade.
After making his ODI debut in 2001, Haddin had to wait for his test opportunity behind Adam Gilchrist for seven years, but enters the series with the most number of tests under his belt in the Australian squad after Clarke.
Haddin became Australia's 400th test cricketer when he made his debut in 2008.
All rounder (right-arm medium pace, right-handed bat)
Age: 32, Tests: 41, Batting average: 35.34, Bowling: 62 wickets @ 30.06
Injury-plagued and controversial, the barrel-chested Watson's presence in the squad remains contentious but his form with both bat and ball will be crucial in the team's quest to bring the Ashes back from England.
Despite shelving his bowling amid fitness concerns, Watson's struggle with the bat continued in the disastrous tour of India earlier this year, but he has been handed a lifeline by new coach Darren Lehmann and will re-assume his preferred role as opener where he played his best cricket.
Naturally aggressive, Watson has a history of breaking down with injury mid-series and Australia will have fingers crossed he and Clarke can play out a gruelling tour.
Age: 35, Test: One, Batting average: 9.50
Rogers, who has only played one previous Test, scoring 19 runs in two innings against India at Perth in January 2008, will partner Watson when the first Ashes Test starts.
He might be a Test novice but has plenty of experience in English conditions and boasts a first-class average of over 50. He is the captain of county side Middlesex and has also played for Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Northants.
Rogers scored a double century against Australia while playing for Leicestershire in 2005.
Age: 31, Tests: 17, Batting average: 32.90
The veteran of 17 Tests has failed to cement his position at the top of the order for Australia and, with Shane Watson's return as an opener and Chris Rogers getting preference for the other slot, the dogged left-hander has to jostle for a place in the middle order.
Age: 26, Tests: 19, Batting average: 39.46
The flamboyant opening batsman is capable of destroying any opposition attack when on song but has been plagued by problems off-field.
Suspended for his bar-room fracas with England's Joe Root, Warner would enter the first Test without match practice but has the tools and natural attacking flair to punish England's bowlers.
Age: 24, Tests: 24, Batting average: 33.00
His shuffling batting stance dismays purists but despite the flawed technique, Hughes burst on to the test scene with a dream debut series in South Africa in 2009.
But the 24-test-old left-handed batsman has failed to convert the early promise into runs and his meagre batting average of 33 underlines his hot and cold career.
Age: 24, Tests: Seven, Batting average: 32.30
Smith burst on to the international arena in 2010 as a promising youngster who bowled leg-spin and could make useful contributions with the bat as Australia struggled to find replacements for their retired stalwarts.
Having evolved as a more dependable batsman and put bowling on the backseat, he was added to the current squad as a backup batsman owing to Clarke's dodgy back and Warner's suspension.
Age: 26, Tests: Six, Batting average: 29.22
The Pakistan-born left-handed batsman made his much-hyped Test debut for Australia as a replacement for the injured Ricky Ponting in an Ashes Test in Sydney in 2011.
He is a gifted batsman with a good temperament and poise but played his last Test for Australia 18 months back against New Zealand and might have to wait longer for a spot in the team.
Age: 25, Tests: 12, Batting average: 34.61, Dismissals: 33 catches, three stumpings
Wade, who survived testicular cancer as a teenager, broke into the Test team once Haddin returned from West Indies due to personal reasons and has done reasonably well in his role.
But he lost his position to Haddin as the first choice wicketkeeper-batsman as Australia needed more experience in their young team for the Ashes series.
All rounder (left-arm pace, right-hand bat)
Age: 23, Tests: None.
The left-arm seamer is on his way to becoming a regular in the shorter formats for Australia and his best chance of making a Test debut will be when the team opt to play four fast bowlers.
Faulkner can swing the ball both ways, has good control and is a useful lower-order batsman.
Right-arm off-spin bowler
Age: 25, Tests: 22, Bowling: 76 wickets @ 33.18
An off-spinner in the classical mode, Lyon completed a fairytale story when he made his Test debut for Australia against Sri Lanka in 2011 after being a groundsman at Adelaide Oval a year prior.
Lyon impressed the selectors with career-best figures of seven for 94 in an innings in India, which earned him the lone spinner's spot in the squad.
Right-arm pace bowler
Age: 28, Tests: 41, Bowling: 150 wickets @ 28.84
The lion-hearted right-arm fast bowler is the most experienced of Australia's pace battery and is expected to lead the bowling unit in the series.
Siddle took the first Ashes hat-trick of the 21st century in the opening Test of the 2010 series in England and Australia will be again hoping for a similar dream start when he charges in to bowl at Alastair Cook and company.
Right-arm pace bowler
Age: 23, Tests: 10, Bowling: 40 wickets @ 23.37
One of Australia's exciting bowling talents, Pattinson is capable of running through any batting lineups with his sheer pace, controlled swing and movement off the pitch.
His aggressive bowling makes him an outright match-winner for Australia and he will test the English batsmen's defence if he remains fit.
Left-arm fast bowler
Age: 23, Tests: Nine, Bowling: 30 wickets @ 34.03
The tall, young left-arm fast bowler has the ability to swing the ball back into the right-handed batsman and therefore adds a lot of variety to the Australian bowling attack.
Starc is also a potent lower-order batsman with a highest Test score of 99 and a more-than-useful average of 32.70 in his nine tests for Australia.
Right-arm pace bowler
Age: 33, Tests: 12, Bowling: 47 wickets @ 23.63
Harris has the knack of swinging the ball both ways and is deceptively quick when in full flow but he is injury prone and has played only 12 Tests for Australia since his debut in March 2010.
Right-arm pace bowler
Age: 26, Tests: Two, Bowling: 11 wickets @ 16.18
The 26-year-old seamer relies on impeccable line and length with enough movement on and off the pitch to test a batsman's temperament.
He has made good use of the practice games leading up to the series to stake a claim for inclusion in Australia's pace battery.