Aussies unsure about XI for Ashes opener

Australia and England will wait until the last minute to name their sides for the Ashes opener, but Michael Clarke is confident he knows the hosts’ XI.

Chris Rogers is expected to be the only change for the visitors, with the opener set to return from concussion at the expense of Shaun Marsh.

Alastair Cook is likely to lead the same team that battled to a 1-1 draw in their recent series against New Zealand, leaving uncapped legspinner Adil Rashid on the sidelines.

Clarke certainly thinks that will be the case when the long-awaited series begins in Cardiff at 8pm AEST on Wednesday.

“Everybody knows the England team. I don’t think that XI will change,” Clarke said in his pre-match press conference.

“They’ll stick with what they’ve played with in their last couple of Test matches.

“They had a bit of success there and I don’t think (new coach) Trevor Bayliss will make too many changes just yet.”

National selectors Darren Lehmann and Rod Marsh had a lengthy chat in the middle of Sophia Gardens on Tuesday, when intermittent rain fell throughout the day.

The presence of Mitch Marsh bowling in the nets at training effectively confirmed that Shane Watson would be playing this week.

Clarke hinted at the prospect of an all-out pace attack earlier this week, but was less bullish on Tuesday after the pitch had been trimmed.

“We haven’t got a team at this stage. The wicket has changed a fair bit from yesterday already so the selectors are going to wait until the start of play,” Clarke said.

“I liked the look of the grass that was on the wicket yesterday. It looks like that’s been cut down a little bit.”

Mitchell Johnson will spearhead Australia’s attack in the first Test.

England captain Alastair Cook and paceman Stuart Broad have suggested Johnson will be easier to negate on English pitches, but Clarke disagreed.

“He’s bowling as fast as I’ve ever seen him bowl in the nets and he’s swinging it too. It’s not fun to face,” he added.

“He’s fit, healthy and excited about what lies ahead.

“There’s been things said about whether he can perform in these conditions and that’s put fire into his belly.”

Likely Australia XI: David Warner, Chris Rogers, Steve Smith, Michael Clarke (capt), Adam Voges, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon

Likely England XI: Alastair Cook (capt), Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, James Anderson.

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