The Ashes: We can beat England, says Michael Clarke

Clarke says Australia have left the Lord's Test defeat behind them and will put up a strong show against England at Old Trafford.

Updated: July 31, 2013 17:36 IST
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Clarke says Australia have left the Lord's Test defeat behind them and will put up a strong show against England at Old Trafford. (Pitch battles at Manchester all part of the game for Cook)

Michael Clarke, writing in The Daily Telegraph, has said that Australia have left the Lord's Test behind them, and that, while history cannot be changed, "great lessons can be learnt from what goes before to make for better planning and preparation".

Ahead of the third Test at Old Trafford, starting on Thursday (August 1), Clarke also said: "England were the better team at Lord's but we know we can beat them. There are three Tests left and we always turn up to a game believing we can win."

Anticipating that the last statement could be considered a "hollow boast", Clarke explained why he thought Australia could still provide some edge to what is fast looking like a one-sided affair. "We almost won the first Test at Trent Bridge little more than a fortnight ago. Big results can turn on little moments," he said. "We have shown enough on this tour individually to know that if we put our performances together as a unit we are a very competitive side. (Related: CA, Arthur make peace ahead of third Ashes Test)

"Everyone in the top seven has scored a half-century in the first two Tests and our bowling has been generally strong."

At the three-day game at Hove against Sussex between the second and third Tests, Steven Smith got a century, while Ed Cowan hit two half-centuries, and Phil Hughes, Usman Khawaja also got good batting time under their belts. "(The game) produced some more good batting while the bowlers who did not play at Lords got some much-needed overs under their belts," said Clarke. (Also read: I'm not retiring, says Clarke)

"Those of us who missed the game at Hove have been working hard with our preparation. That's the way it is on a cricket tour, you're playing, travelling or preparing to play. It's not a holiday and nor should it be."

About his own somewhat dodgy back, Clarke said he has been doing "regular maintenance" to be able to play. "I didn't play the tour game because I needed to lighten the load a little after two Tests in as many weeks but things are no different to how they have been during most of my 90-odd Tests," he said. (Pietersen winning his fitness battle ahead of 3rd Test)

About the Old Trafford pitch, which could bring spin into play considering England's decision to add Monty Panesar to the squad, Clarke wasn't too concerned. "There has already been help for the spinners from the dry pitches we have played on in the first two Tests and I don't expect the conditions in Manchester to be that much different," he pointed out.

"They are generally good conditions for batting in the first innings and that is where we really have to cash in. A good first innings allows you to control the game and gives your bowlers the chance to be more attacking, knowing there is a good buffer of runs."

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