Ashes 2013-14: Injury scare for Australia captain Michael Clarke as he misses training with a sore ankle
Clarke is expected to make a full recovery for the second Test which begins on Thursday in Adelaide
Tuesday 03 December 2013
Australia captain Michael Clarke is confidently expecting to be fit for the second Ashes Test, despite missing training on Tuesday because of his sore right ankle.
Clarke went over awkwardly on his leg during fielding drills at the Adelaide Oval on Monday, but was able to bat in the nets afterwards.
He sat out morning practice a day later, but is planning to resume his preparation on the eve of the match.
A Cricket Australia statement read: "Michael Clarke is not training today.
"His ankle is a bit stiff/sore. He will train tomorrow, and will play the game."
Clarke's health also received a positive update from all-rounder Shane Watson - who reported he too is sufficiently recovered from his pre-series hamstring injury to take on full bowling duties here.
Asked about Clarke, Watson said: "It was more precautionary today.
"I know the medical staff are very confident they were just giving him a break today, and he'll be training flat out tomorrow ready to go for the Test."
Medium-pacer Watson was required to bowl only two overs - both, typically, maidens - as Australia trounced England by 381 runs in the first Test at the Gabba.
But he will be able to get through "as many as the captain wants me to bowl" at a venue where it should take significantly longer to bag 20 England wickets.
Australia arrived in Adelaide three years ago having been unable to stop England closing out a stalemate in Brisbane, and then promptly shot themselves in the foot by stumbling to two for three on the first morning.
Watson warns they cannot be making those mistakes this time against opponents Australia still respect, despite their first-Test romp.
"We certainly experienced that in the Test here against England last time, losing quick wickets and making it very difficult to claw our way back.
"We know that's how important it is for us to be able to start well, whether we bat or bowl first.
"We know against England [we can] not have those lapses, because that's when we've lost Test matches and have not been able to stop that momentum."
Watson has called for a quick start to prevent an English fightback
Alongside Watson, Australia appear certain to deploy spinner Nathan Lyon - and it will be a remarkable occasion for the latter, a world away from Test cricket in 2010/11 and still part of the groundstaff who so angered none other than Kevin Pietersen when they failed to cover the nets quickly enough after a storm.
Pietersen was therefore prevented from practising, and made his feelings abundantly clear via Twitter. England, however, have rarely looked back since.
They went on to a famous series victory, a first in Australia for almost a quarter-of-a-century, and are bidding this winter to win the Ashes for a fourth successive time.
But their hosts have struck the first blow, and are determined to make the advantage count. "We're certainly very hungry," said Watson.
"We haven't enjoyed losing to the English over the last three series.
"There's been a number of us who have been involved in those series, and we're extremely driven to do whatever we possibly can to be able to win this Ashes series
"There's no doubt it means a hell of a lot to us as a team, to Australian cricket, and to everyone."
He has been especially struck by the level of home support. "You can really feel what it means to the Australian cricket-loving public ... to win the Ashes back.
"Even in Brisbane, it was the most support I ever felt by the crowd.
"It was absolutely extraordinary.
"It wasn't just a couple of balls; it was every ball.
"I just felt the whole Australian crowd was behind us. It was an incredible feeling."
Lyon celebrates victory at The Gabba
There may be a battle royal in prospect off the pitch, then, in a match which marks the 20th anniversary of England's 'Barmy Army'.
It was here that the tireless singing of those who travelled down under to cheer the tourists on first earned them their nickname from the home media.
Australia's intention, of course, is to try to silence them - and keep England down.
It is an unfamiliar feeling for Watson to have a series lead over England, but one he is out to preserve.
"It's certainly a nice position to be in, compared to the last three series I've been involved in.
"But I know how quickly it can change.
"The English don't like losing - they haven't lost very often, especially to us, over the last three series."
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