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Hughes hails "outstanding" Clarke

Phil Hughes believes Australia captain Michael Clarke laid down an Ashes marker with his fluent century against Worcestershire today.

When Clarke arrived in England for the Champions Trophy he was beset by long-standing back problems and was unable to take part in the competition as he remained in London for specialist treatment.

But he has returned to fitness in time to play in both four-day tour matches and he signed off his personal preparations for the Ashes by scoring 124 in just 98 balls at New Road.

He was simply too good for a modest Worcestershire attack, striking 16 fours and six sixes.

Hughes, who scored 86 and shared a 132-run stand with his skipper, sees Clarke's innings as a strong sign for the tourists.

"I think it's a real good statement," he said. "Michael had been out of the game for three months and to play well last week then go on today to three figures is outstanding.

"He pushed the game forward and he hasn't been complaining about his back one bit, which is pleasing for him and for us as a unit.

"I thought he looked very good, he was running between the wickets well and he was swinging hard towards the end so that'll loosen his back up nicely. He's coming along really well."

Worcestershire closed day three on 64 for one - Nick Compton the man out for 26 - and needing a fanciful 393 more to win.

Whether Australia take the nine wickets they need for victory is moot, with the game already serving its primary purpose of giving their batsmen plenty of time in the middle as well as getting some overs out of a largely second-string bowling attack.

The focus now is on the precise make-up of their XI for next week's first Investec Test at Trent Bridge and with Hughes highly likely to be in it, he could feasibly bat at three, four or five.

"I'm not sure where; I honestly don't know," he said when asked for his likely position.

"The last couple of games I've batted at different spots in the order but it doesn't matter where you bat; it's only a number next to your name.

"In the last couple of weeks the players have mixed it around in the order, just to give everybody an opportunity to in and that's a good thing.

"Wherever you bat it's about scoring and getting runs behind you."

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