Apr 242013

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Michael Clarke

Still confident … Michael Clarke and John Inverarity at Wednesday’s announcement. Source: Rick Rycroft / AAP

It didn’t come as much of a surprise when an English reporter described us as Australia’s “worst Ashes squad” at Monday’s team announcement.

I’ve been hearing comments like that throughout my time as captain and, more often than not, I’d like to think we’ve proven our critics wrong.

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I’m not going to make any Glenn McGrath-style predictions about the Ashes result, but I will say that I’m confident we can bring the urn home with us if we play to our potential.

We will give England due respect in their home conditions but, that said, we’ve selected quite a number of players who have succeeded over there.

Let’s start with Chris Rogers. He has played more than 100 games, scored almost 10,000 runs and averaged close to 55 in English conditions.

Michael Clarke (captain)
Brad Haddin (vice-captain)
Ed Cowan
David Warner
Phil Hughes
Shane Watson
Usman Khawaja
Chris Rogers
Matthew Wade
James Faulkner
Nathan Lyon
Peter Siddle
James Pattinson
Jackson Bird
Ryan Harris
Mitchell Starc

This is obviously a huge tour for Australian cricket and to be in a position to call a batsman into the squad with that kind of experience is a huge asset for us.

Ryan Harris is another guy who has the potential to make a big impact for us. He’s been consistently one of the best quicks in the country when fit and his style of bowling is well suited to English conditions.

And then there’s Brad Haddin. He’s the kind of guy who won’t be burdened by the vice-captaincy or the intensity of an Ashes series.

He’s a leader, he absolutely loves the heat of battle and he is just the kind of guy you want beside you in an Ashes series.

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He’s our first-choice wicketkeeper for the Ashes, but I’m certainly not ruling out the possibility of Matt Wade playing down the order as a specialist batsman – or an all-rounder, for those who remember his spell in Hobart against the Sri Lankans!

Shane Watson called me from India last week to inform me he was standing down from the vice-captaincy. I asked him whether he had made up his mind or was still contemplating the move and he told me he had definitely decided to hand over the vice-captaincy.

As his captain and friend I accepted his decision, and from there it was up to the board and selectors to appoint a new vice-captain. In Hads, I’m convinced they came up with the right man for the job.

There’s a lot to like about the youngsters in our squad, too. Most of them have experienced Test cricket with just the one uncapped player in James Faulkner. He’s a real competitor and has earned the right to be in the squad with 125 wickets at a little over 22 in 34 first class gamed for Tassie.

We have an excellent mix of experience and youth which, in my experience, is a vital ingredient in a team’s success. And there is healthy competition for places in our team.

The two tour games before the first Test at Trent Bridge – against Somerset and Worcestershire – will be really interesting as we put together our starting XI.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan will join Fox Sports for our coverage of the Ashes. Watch the whole series, starting with the first Test on July 10, LIVE and in HIGH DEFINITION on Fox Sports.

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