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Clarke confident on Harris fitness
Clarke confident on Harris fitness

Australian captain Michael Clarke says he expects Ryan Harris to be fit to play in the third Ashes Test, starting at the WACA Ground tomorrow.

The injury-prone quick has been dealing with an ongoing knee problem but bowled well in the nets this morning under the watchful eye Clarke and national coach Darren Lehmann.

Harris’ likely replacement James Faulkner, who was 12th man in Adelaide, is also under an injury cloud after being struck on the hand while batting in the same nets session.

The 23-year-old Tasmanian was taken to hospital for scans following the blow, with the Australian camp hopeful he has avoided breaking a bone.

Speaking after training this morning, Clarke said the make-up of tomorrow’s final team had yet to be decided.

“We’re going to wait until the toss, see how everyone pulls up after training yesterday and today and give us another opportunity to have another look at the wicket as well,” he said.

“I’m hopeful that everybody will come up.

“The obvious one in (Harris) bowled today so we’re going to wait and see how he pulls up but I’m confident he’ll be fine.”

WA paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile and NSW’s Doug Bollinger will both be in the mix should Harris and Faulkner be ruled out.

Tomorrow’s Test will be Clarke’s 100th for his country.

With his team sitting 2-0 up in the series, the 32-year-old has the chance to make the milestone a memorable one by bringing the Ashes urn back to Australia for the first time in four series.

“I think that’s probably why it’s most special for me,” he said.

“The fact that we have a chance to win the Ashes and continue to perform like we have in the first two Test matches.

“It’s obviously fantastic that I’ve been able to play 99 Test matches for my country, something I’m certainly proud of and I have my family coming which is extra special.

“But in regards to being your 100th Test, it’s not a focus for me at all.

“There’s enough other reasons as to why this Test match is so special to me.”

Australia’s bowling attack have been in rare form this summer and are salivating at the opportunity to go after the visitors on the expected fast, bouncy WACA wicket.

But Clarke said he would still be hesitant to send England in to bat should he win the toss tomorrow morning.

“I’ve always looked at batting first in a Test match because I think you give yourself every opportunity to win the game,” he said.

“Unless the wicket is extremely green, personally I find hard to send a team in.

“But I’ll see what the pitch is like tomorrow, I don’t think there’s going to be any overhead conditions, I think it’s going to be pretty good weather.

“I’ll speak to my vice-captain and we’ll make a decision there, but try and win the toss first and worry about it then.”