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The Ashes: Michael Clarke encouraged by Australia's displays ahead of home series

Michael Clarke: Positive ahead of the Ashes series this winter

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Australia captain Michael Clarke has been encouraged by the performance of his players ahead of the upcoming home Ashes series against England.

Clarke's side struggled in England this summer as they fell to a third successive series defeat against their old rivals.

But Clarke is taking plenty of positives from the individual displays of some of his players during those Tests and the subsequent one-day international series successes over England and in India.

He also believes the Ryobi Cup - Australia's domestic one-day competition - has provided a good platform for players to impress the selectors ahead of the first Ashes Test, which starts on 21 November in Brisbane.

"I think what's been really exciting at the start of this year has not only been the guys' performances in India but also the guys performing in the Ryobi Cup as well," Clarke said.

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"I think we've seen a lot of batters put their hands up and make runs, so they'll be at the front of the selectors' minds, and I think the bowlers on pretty flat wickets have done a fantastic job as well."

Questions have been raised the quality of the Australian batting line-up following disappointing Test series' in India - where they were beaten 4-0 near the start of the year - and England.

However, Clarke dismissed such concerns, claiming: "I think there's been some great performances as well. I think individual players have really stood up.

"We've seen Steve Smith make his first Test hundred, Chris Rogers make his first Test hundred and Watto (Shane Watson) get his highest Test score in England recently, so I think we've seen some real positives as well."

When asked if England deserved to enter the Ashes series as favourites Clarke replied: "If you decide they're favourites, yeah.

"I think for us it's about making sure we're as well prepared as we can be and we play our best cricket, and I'm confident if we do those two things we can win the series."

Watch the Ashes live on Sky Sports this winter, beginning with the opening Test at the Gabba. Coverage begins at 11pm on Sky Sports 2 on November 20

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