• Ashes 2015: News round-up

    Australia captain Michael Clarke believes his players are building up to their defence of the Ashes in just the right style after opening their tour with a convincing victory over Kent.

    Clarke’s men now face Essex in another four-day match, starting on Wednesday, before commencing the defence of the Ashes they won 5-0 on home soil in 2013-14, in Cardiff next week.

    In Canterbury, Australia beat Kent by 255 runs in a match featuring hundreds for the Marsh brothers, Shaun and Mitchell, as well as star batsman Steve Smith.

    For all their recent success, Australia have not won an Ashes series in Britain since 2001, but Clarke reckons they will be well-prepared to end a run of three straight away Ashes series reverses on this tour.

    ‘There was a lot of positives that came out of the [Kent] game. First thing, we won, and that was really important for us as a team, to get out and get a first win in the UK,’ Clarke told Sky Sports.

    ‘Individually guys got what they needed as well. It is a good start and now we have the opportunity to play against Essex, hopefully with the same result.’ – AFP


    Mitchell Johnson says the impact of Phillip Hughes’ death played a part in his recent slip in pace.

    Johnson’s typically savage speed dropped off during India’s tour of Australia last summer, and was more pronounced during the left-armer’s Indian Premier League campaign and recent West Indies Test tour.

    He admitted the shock death of Hughes last November had contributed to his slide in form.

    ‘I’m not someone who makes excuses, but we went through a bit of a time just before that with Phillip Hughes and that was something very difficult, and it was really hard to sort of deal with it at times,’ he told the ABC.

    ‘We were definitely under-prepared at that time and my pace was definitely off. I probably wasn’t fully right, fully mentally right, there at that time, so I just got through.’ – AAP


    Australia and New Zealand will contest the inaugural day-night Test in Adelaide in November, despite the “uncertainty and apprehension” of the Black Caps players.

    Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland and New Zealand counterpart David White have confirmed the two countries had agreed to embrace the pink-ball clash, from November 27 to December 1. It could take on even greater prominence as the Test will be the third in what shapes as an intriguing three-match series.

    The boards believe the format will boost attendances and television ratings. – Sydney Morning Herald