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Australia captain Michael Clarke believes Mitchell Johnson could be Ashes key man

Michael Clarke: Expecting a big series from Mitchell Johnson

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Australia captain Michael Clarke has backed the decision to recall Mitchell Johnson for the opening Ashes Test next week.

The left-arm paceman was overlooked for the 3-0 defeat to England last summer after several wayward performances in the Test arena, but he impressed in the subsequent one-day series.

Clarke was further encouraged by Johnson's pace and control on the recent tour of India, and he believes the speedster could be pivotal to Australia's chances of reclaiming the Ashes this winter.

"I think all bowlers have their strengths, and no doubt Mitch's speed is one of them," said Clarke. "But I think he has improved his control, he's bowling a lot more consistent at the moment.

"His pace is certainly high, which is a great start, but it doesn't matter how fast you bowl - if you don't know where they're going it's a lot easier to face as a batsman.

"But I think Mitch has that control, and he showed that in the one-day format.

"I said a couple of days ago that if Mitch was selected in this squad it wouldn't surprise me in a couple of months' time if you see Mitch being man of the series."

Australia are considering an all-pace attack for the opening Test at the Gabba, although Clarke insisted off-spinner Nathan Lyon will have a big role to play in the Ashes.

"Every spinner that plays for Australia is closely watched because of how great Shane Warne was," Clarke added.

"But I think Nathan has been fantastic for us in international cricket, and I think he'll have a fantastic summer.

"He's bowling pretty well for NSW. He would've liked a few more wickets but certainly the game at the MCG the other day didn't offer much for spin bowling at all.

"It's great to see him in the squad, and I'm confident if he gets an opportunity in the first Test he'll grab it with both hands."

Stay up or catch up - watch England's defence of the Ashes in Australia this winter ONLY on Sky Sports.