Relief for Oz as Clarke named in squad for Ashes opener against Somerset

Sydney: Australian captain Michael Clarke has been selected to play in the first Ashes tour warm-up game against Somerset on Wednesday, giving a much-needed boost to Australia`s Ashes campaign.

Clarke has not played competitive cricket for more than three months since the third Test of Australia`s disastrous India tour in March, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Confirming Clarke`s presence for the Somerset game, vice- captain Brad Haddin said that being the first game on tour, Clarke is very excited to play, adding that he is in a good spot and also has a good catch.

Stating that it was important to give the squad a bit as they have just another warm-up before the actual Ashes Test begins on July 10 at Trent Bridge, Haddin further said that even if veteran batsman Chris Rogers will not play in the first of two warm-up matches, he is in a good form as he has been playing a lot of cricket over the last few months.

According to the report, Phillip Hughes and Usman Khawaja will also have a chance to plump for Ashes spots in Darren Lehmann`s first game as coach, while suspended opener David Warner and recent squad addition Steve Smith will miss the tour match.

Meanwhile, injury-returned fast bowlers Ryan Harris and Jackson Bird will sit out the Somerset game, with a team spokesman stating that although Harris had pulled up well from his comeback from injury against Gloucestershire, the decision rest him for this game was part of his plan to be ready for the Ashes.

James Faulkner, the left-arm quick who can bat at No.7, rounds out a five-man bowling attack, the report added.