Sydney: Australian captain Michael Clarke said on Tuesday he believes he can play all five Ashes Tests against England and has years of cricket left in him, despite being plagued by chronic back problems.
Speaking to reporters on the eve of his expected comeback from injury to lead New South Wales in a Sheffield Shield match against Tasmania on Wednesday, Clarke said he was ready.
"Right now I feel fit and healthy," he said before a final fitness test. He batted away speculation about early retirement due to his lingering back troubles, saying: "I certainly don't believe that my back will play a part in regard to shortening my career."
Clarke gave further details in his column in The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday. "While there is ongoing speculation about my future, my back is no worse now than it has been for years," he wrote.
"I have been dealing with it since I was 17," he said, noting he had only missed one Test in his entire career because of his back.
"I have degeneration in three of my discs which require constant maintenance," said the skipper.
"That means I will always experience some stiffness and pain," admitted Clarke, who has faced an intensive physiotherapy and rehabilitation programme over the past month.
Clarke said he was confident Australia could turn the tables on England in the Ashes series, which starts in Brisbane on November 21, after a 3-0 defeat in England in July-August.