Michael Clarke returns for Australia - and sets sights on preparing for the Ashes against England

 

Australia captain Michael Clarke has urged his team-mates to move on from their recent troubles and focus on preparing for the Ashes against England.

The tourists today began their first warm-up game against Somerset at Taunton with Clarke making his return following a back problem.

But with only two games - Australia also play at Worcester - before the first Test begins at Trent Bridge on July 10, Clarke knows time is short, particularly after Darren Lehmann replaced Mickey Arthur as coach.

Clarke said: "Our mindset as a group is to move forward, there is no doubt about it.

"I think the boys trained really well yesterday and a lot of guys have come down early today to get some work in. We're working really hard.

"We know that improvement's needed from what's happened in the past," Clarke added on Sky Sports News.

Australia made an early exit from the ICC Champions Trophy, where they also lost to England, and are without batsman David Warner for the Somerset and Worcestershire games.

Warner was banned by Cricket Australia after admitting punching England batsman Joe Root in a Birmingham bar following the Champions Trophy defeat.

Warner had previously been in trouble for a Twitter rant against two Australian journalists but, following Arthur's departure, Clarke feels his team need to concentrate on on-field matters.

"In our team nobody's guaranteed selection, you've got to earn the right to play in the first Test match and we've got two practice games for the boys to make the most of the opportunity," he said.

"There's nothing more special for an Australian player, and I'm sure it's the same for the English, than an Ashes series.

"We know we're the underdogs and we're looking forward to the challenge.

"Hopefully we can start with this game and build some momentum into that first Test match."

PA

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