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Clarke: Aussies have the belief to reclaim Ashes


AUSTRALIAN captain Michael Clarke believes it is time for the talking to stop – and duly did his best to ensure that was the case at his final press conference before the start of the Ashes.

Clarke did manage to convey his confidence that Shane Watson will be able to bowl at some point in the first Test at the Gabba, but otherwise his 13-minute appearance turned into an exercise in saying as little as possible.

On subjects varying from Stuart Broad, to Mitchell Johnson and Kevin Pietersen and several more, precious few of the Australia captain's responses merit repeat.

The occasion of this Ashes rematch loomed large, and Clarke clearly saw no need to add extra spice to an occasion already captivating an audience Down Under.

It will be closely followed too, of course, by a few million or so in another land 10,000 miles away.

In the thick of the action, set to get under way at midnight Irish time on Thursday, Clarke at least confirmed his team's readiness to try to stop the Ashes staying in foreign hands for a fourth successive time.

"The boys are obviously extremely excited ... looking forward to tomorrow, finally getting out there, after all the talk about this series," he said.

"There's been a lot said about the build-up to this series, speculation about players, how Australia are going to turn it around.

"I'm not going to sit here and promise the world, tell you everything is going to be different.

"Our job is to perform at our best, and hope the result will take care of itself.

"I think the belief is there, and I hope we'll show that over the next five Test matches."

Watson and the readiness of George Bailey, for his Test debut at the age of 31, are the two topics on which Clarke was minded to engage specifically.

Watson's recovery from a hamstring strain appears likely to be more or less complete in the nick of time, and unsurprisingly Clarke expects Bailey to quickly feel at home in Test cricket.

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

"But he has improved every single day. I'm really confident he'll be able to bat at his best, and do a job with the ball."

Bailey is Australia's latest solution to their problem number six position.

Clarke said: "It's great to have Bails around.

"He's a wonderful guy, and he's been extremely successful in the shorter format for us – and he's really excited about his first Test.

"He's very well-prepared, on top of his game and full of confidence."