Clarke leads Aussies into Boxing Day Test

Australian captain Michael Clarke has declared himself fully fit after taking his place in the team for the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka at the MCG.

Clarke was in doubt because of a hamstring strain suffered in the first Test victory in Hobart and was still unsure about whether he would play after a searching fitness assessment yesterday.

But vice-captain Shane Watson was denied the chance to lead the Aussies for the first time when Clarke revealed his leg had pulled up well this morning.

MORE: Clarke backs rest for quicks

Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat, with Mitchell Johnson taking the new ball, while Jackson Bird is making his Test debut.

‘‘I’d call myself 100 per cent (fit),’’ Clarke said at the coin toss.

‘‘If I couldn’t have turned up today and performed at my best, I wouldn’t have been playing.

‘‘The hamstring feels great and I’m looking forward to this Test match.’’

Clarke admitted he would have batted first if he’d won the toss.

Sri Lanka skipper Jayawardene says the prospect of an excellent wicket prompted his decision.

‘‘Brilliant conditions, looks a great wicket, and brilliant weather,’’ he said.

Australia fast bowler Jackson Bird will make his debut and left-arm quick Mitchell Johnson has been recalled for Mitchell Starc (rested) and Ben Hilfenhaus (side strain).

Sri Lanka have included Dhammika Prasad for injured quick Nuwan Kulasekara who has a sore rib.


Australia: Michael Clarke (capt), Ed Cowan, David Warner, Phil Hughes, Shane Watson, Mike Hussey, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird.

Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Dimuth Karunaratne, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Thilan Samaraweera, Angelo Mathews, Prasanna Jayawardene, Dhammika Prasad, Chanaka Welegedara, Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath.

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