Michael Clarke has handed Australia a huge boost ahead of the upcoming Ashes series after returning to action following his latest back problem.
Australia had missed him in the previous series, but will be happy to see his name back on the team-sheet for the latest series.
The Aussie skipper was ruled out of the one-day international series with India because of injury and there were serious doubts as to whether he would be fit for the first Ashes Test with England on November 21 in Brisbane.
But after another short spell spent resting his back, Clarke could now play in New South Wales’ first match of the Sheffield Shield season, which begins on October 30, although many fans in the betfair forums believe his side’s second game of the season, against Victoria the following week, could be a more realistic target for the batsman.
Clarke has been suffering with back problems for some time and they affected him during the summer Ashes series in England, forcing him to miss some warm-up and limited-overs matches and restricting the Aussie skipper throughout his side’s disappointing Ashes.
Australia physio, Alex Kountouris, said: “Michael is progressing well and recently recommenced batting in the nets. At this stage we are aiming to have him fit to play the second round of the Sheffield Shield, but we have not ruled out the possibility of him playing the first round if he makes better than expected progress.”
After such a comprehensive series defeat in England a few months ago, it can’t be underestimated just how important it is to Australia’s chances over the next few months.
While the tourists will go into this Ashes as heavy favourites with betfair to make it four series victories in a row against the Aussies, with Clarke fully fit and in confident form, it could be a very interesting series indeed for fans of both sides.
David Warner has once again insisted he is determined to clean up his act after yet another incident left him foul of the Australian Cricket authorities. The 26-year-old was hit with a one-match suspended ban by Cricket NSW earlier this week after he went to the races rather than playing for his club side.
The opening batsman blamed a misunderstanding in communication for his absence but that didn’t stop Warner from receiving a third sanction from cricket officials this year. And with the return Ashes series coming up, Warner’s place in the Aussies’ squad that will face England has to now be in doubt. Australia are currently 13/8 with Paddy Power to win the upcoming Ashes series.
After being fined following a Twitter row with a journalist in May, the batsman was then involved in that pub bust-up with England opener Joe Root ahead of the Aussies Champions Trophy campaign, resulting in him being left out of the ODI tournament and then the early stages of the Ashes. That said, he is 9/2 to be the top Australian series runscorer.
But despite “doing a Warner” for the third time this year, the batsman has made it clear he is ready to change his ways and focus on his cricket during an important summer for Australia.
“The old saying is that things come in threes and I think I’ve had my turn now,” Warner said.
“There’s always going to be ups and downs in your life but it’s probably been a pretty bad six months for myself, but now it’s about moving forward and getting on with cricket and trying to be a mature adult.”
But as ever with Warner, there will be a large percentage of Aussie fans just waiting for him to make the headlines again for the wrong reasons – which is a huge shame when taking into consideration just how important the left-hander could be to the host’s chances of reclaiming the Ashes urn.
The English fast bowler, Boyd Rankin, has said that he is hoping to find a place in the England Ashes squad which will visit Australia towards the end of this year.
Rankin is currently a part of the England ODI team which is playing a 5-match ODI series against the Kangaroos.
In the 2nd game of the series played yesterday, Rankin was the only English bowler who managed to impress. The 29 years old Ireland born fast bowler bowled his heart out and ended up with figures of 49 for 2 in 10 overs.
However, despite Rankin’s effort, Australia managed to score more than 300 in 50 overs and that proved to be too much for the home team. If you had a bet at William Hill cricket on the match you would have come up trumps by backing an Aussie win.
The pitches in Australia generally happen to be quick and bouncy and Rankin with his height of 6 foot 7 inches can prove to be lethal there. But, to be a part of the Ashes squad, the Warwickshire seamer will have to show some consistency in the remaining 3 matches of the ODI series.
Talking to the reporters after England’s defeat in the 2nd ODI, Rankin said, “I have the chance to showcase my skills in the remaining 3 games of the ODI series. Hopefully, I will be able to put up consistent performances and push my name forward for selection in the Ashes squad.”
“I am yet to play a game in Australia, but, I have been told that the pitches and conditions over there will suit me. So, I am looking forward to go there and have a crack.”
Rankin hasn’t made his debut in test match cricket yet, but he has got quite a bit of experience in ODI cricket. He has played 38 ODIs so far and has taken 47 wickets at an average of just more than 30. He has represented two countries at international level i.e. Ireland and England.