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Ankle issue unlikely to sideline Clarke

Australia captain Michael Clarke is confidently expecting to be fit for the second Ashes Test despite missing training today because of his sore right ankle.

Clarke went over awkwardly on his leg during fielding drills at the Adelaide Oval yesterday, but was able to bat in the nets afterwards.

He sat out morning practice today yet is planning to resume his preparation on the eve of the match.

A Cricket Australia statement read: "Michael Clarke is not training today. His ankle is a bit stiff/sore. He will train tomorrow, and will play the game."

Clarke’s health also received a positive update from all-rounder Shane Watson, who reported he, too, has sufficiently recovered from his pre-series hamstring injury to take on full bowling duties.

Asked about Clarke, Watson said: “It was more precautionary today. I know the medical staff are very confident; they were just giving him a break today, and he’ll be training flat out tomorrow ready to go for the Test.”

Medium-pacer Watson was required to bowl only two overs - both, typically, maidens - as Australia beat England by 381 runs in the first Test at the Gabba.

But he will be able to get through “as many as the captain wants me to bowl” at a venue where it should take significantly longer to bag 20 England wickets.

Shane Watson's hamstring injury has healed sufficiently for the all-rounder to bowl in full in the second Ashes Test

Australia arrived in Adelaide three years ago having been unable to stop England closing out a stalemate in Brisbane, and then promptly shot themselves in the foot by stumbling to two for three on the first morning.

Watson warns they cannot be making those mistakes this time against opponents Australia still respect despite their first-Test romp.

“We certainly experienced that in the Test here against England last time, losing quick wickets and making it very difficult to claw our way back,” added Watson.

“We know that’s how important it is for us to be able to start well, whether we bat or bowl first.

“We know against England [we can] not have those lapses, because that's when we've lost Test matches and have not been able to stop that momentum.”

Unlike four years ago, when England had produced a remarkable comeback to draw at Brisbane, Australia hold the momentum approaching Adelaide.

“We’re certainly very hungry,” said Watson. “We haven’t enjoyed losing to the English over the last three series.

“There have been a number of us who have been involved in those series, and we’re extremely driven to do whatever we possibly can to be able to win this Ashes series

"There’s no doubt it means a hell of a lot to us as a team, to Australian cricket, and to everyone.”

Watson, meanwhile, has been especially struck by the level of home support, saying: “You can really feel what it means to the Australian cricket-loving public ... to win the Ashes back.

“Even in Brisbane, it was the most support I ever felt by the crowd. It was absolutely extraordinary.

“It wasn't just a couple of balls; it was every ball. I just felt the whole Australian crowd was behind us. It was an incredible feeling.”

There may be a battle royal in prospect off the pitch, then, in a match which marks the 20th anniversary of England’s Barmy Army.

It was here that the tireless singing of those who travelled Down Under to cheer the tourists on first earned them their nickname from the home media.

Australia's intention, of course, is to try to silence them - and keep England down.

It is an unfamiliar feeling for Watson to have a series lead over England, but one he is out to preserve.

“It's certainly a nice position to be in, compared to the last three series I've been involved in,” he said.

“But I know how quickly it can change. The English don't like losing - they haven't lost very often, especially to us, over the last three series."

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