Fit-again Clarke Boosts Aussies

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.

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