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Clarke, Siddle to Start for Australia in Ashes Cricket Opener

Australia batsman Michael Clarke is fit for tomorrow’s series-opening Ashes cricket Test in Brisbane and Peter Siddle was chosen ahead of fellow fast bowler Doug Bollinger, captain Ricky Ponting said.

Bollinger and Usman Khawaja, who had been called into the squad as backup because Clarke has been struggling with a back injury, will be released from the 13-man squad to play for their state teams following the toss, Ponting said.

“Michael Clarke’s got through his work particularly well the last couple of days,” Ponting said at a news conference at Brisbane’s Gabba stadium. “Dougie’s the unlucky quick to miss out.”

Siddle, who hasn’t played a Test since January because of a stress fracture in his back, will team with Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus in the same pace attack that played all five Tests in last year’s 2-1 Ashes series defeat in England.

Left-arm spin bowler Xavier Doherty will make his Test debut.

Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Shane Watson, Simon Katich, Michael Clarke (vice-captain), Mike Hussey, Marcus North, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Xavier Doherty, Ben Hilfenhaus.

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