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Ashes: Michael Clarke claims Australia are set for tough battle at the Gabba

Michael Clarke: Inspects the pitch at the Gabba

Australia skipper Michael Clarke insists his side are "excited" about renewing hostilities with England at Brisbane.

Australia will go into the series on the back of a 3-0 defeat in England in the summer, however there is a renewed sense of optimism within the camp.

And Clarke claims the players can't wait for the chance to set the record straight in front of their own fans at the Gabba.

"The boys are all extremely excited, there's been a lot of talk since we've returned home from England about this series and I think all the boys are looking forward to finally getting out there tomorrow," he said.

"There's been a lot said in the build-up to this series, a lot of speculation about individual players, about teams and about how Australia is going to have success, how we are going to turn it around.

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"But for us it's about coming out and playing our best cricket in five Test matches and hopefully the result will take care of itself.

"It's going to be a tough battle, like it was in England. We have to play our best cricket to have success no matter what conditions you play in. It's nice to be playing in front of our own fans."

Clarke insists the final XI for the clash has yet to be confirmed, with the key debate over whether spinner Nathan Lyon and all-rounder James Faulkner will make the side.


"The selectors are probably talking about it as we speak so it's probably a question for those guys," Clarke said.

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"I can't talk about the selection part of it, because I'm not having that conversation right now with the selectors but the wicket looks fantastic.

"I think it looks a really good pitch, I think it's going to offer pace and bounce for the bowlers and that includes spin. I think spin's had success at the Gabba because of the bounce rather than the spin.

"The Gabba is one of the best Test wickets in the world to play, it offers good pace and bounce and always keeps the bowlers interested and once you're in it's as good a place to bat as anywhere."

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The 32-year-old added that Shane Watson was making good progress from his hamstring injury and should be fit to play some part with both the bat and ball.

"I don't think he'll be 100 per cent and can bowl 25 overs in the first innings of a Test match," he said.

"But as we've seen Watto's improved every day and I'm really confident he'll be able to bat at his best and do a job with the ball for us."

The opening Ashes Test gets under way on Sky Sports 2 HD from 11pm on Wednesday