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Page last updated at 06:51 GMT, Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Ashes: Michael Clarke passed fit for first Gabba Test

First Ashes Test, Brisbane
Dates: 25-29 November Start time: 0000 GMT Coverage: Listen live to Test Match Special on BBC 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW and online (UK only). Watch live on Sky Sports 1, highlights on ITV 4

Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke has proved his fitness batting in the nets

Australia vice-captain Michael Clarke has been passed fit for the first Ashes Test at Brisbane on Thursday.

Clarke has recovered from an ongoing back injury and came through net sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"Michael Clarke has got through his work particularly well the last couple of days and had a long, solid bat in the nets," said captain Ricky Ponting.

Clarke's fitness means Usman Khawaja is left out, while paceman Peter Siddle gets the nod over Doug Bollinger.

Batsman Khawaja, 23, had been called up as standby for Clarke, who has suffered with a chronic back problem for much of his Test career and his condition flared while he was playing for New South Wales 10 days ago.

Ponting said Clarke should be fit enough to get through the whole series.


"He's done all his fielding today," he said. "I wouldn't have thought there would be a risk involved.

"It's a big game for us at the start of the series, and you don't want to go with a cloud hanging over anybody.

"That was why he was asked to do as much batting as he did yesterday, and again today.

"We couldn't afford to leave any stone unturned as far as preparation is concerned.

"He has had injections. He had injections a little while ago, I think, almost immediately after the Shield game when he pulled up sore."

Clarke has an apparently chronic frailty in his back, but has yet to miss a Test match because of it.

"His history is that he's had these type of back complaints for most of his career," added Ponting.

"He gets through games; he pulls up a bit sore, does all his recovery - and gets up again and plays.

"I'm not sure what the long-term prognosis for this one is. All I know he's ready to go for this game."

Ponting said a "lack of bowling" was the reason for leaving out left-armer Bollinger, who has been feeling his way back following a side strain.

The inclusion of Siddle leaves Australia with an identical line-up to the one which finished the 2009 Ashes, with the exception of left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty replacing Nathan Hauritz.

"This line-up had good success in South Africa and at times in England last series. We feel that (Ben) Hilfenhaus and (Peter) Siddle are very well advanced in their preparations for this series, and (Mitchell) Johnson has a lot of cricket under his belt.

"We think this attack is good enough to take 20 wickets at the Gabba."

Australia team: Simon Katich, Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey, Marcus North, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Xavier Doherty, Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle

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see also
Johnson fired up for Ashes series
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Justin Langer column
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Jonathan Agnew column
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England in Australia 2010-11
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Watch BBC Sport's Ashes trail
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Live cricket on the BBC
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