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Page last updated at 09:31 GMT, Friday, 31 December 2010

Ashes: Brad Haddin defends Michael Clarke as skipper

Australia v England, fifth Ashes Test
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground Date: 3-7 January (starts 2330 GMT on 2 Jan) Coverage: Live on Test Match Special on BBC 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW & online; TMS highlights online (UK only) and day's review on the TMS podcast; live text on BBC Sport website; live on Sky Sports 1; highlights on ITV4

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Clarke 'honoured' to captain Australia

Australia vice-captain Brad Haddin says Michael Clarke is the right man to lead the side in Ricky Ponting's absence despite his lack of support with fans.

Clarke will captain Australia in next week's final Ashes Test in Sydney with Ponting out because of a broken finger.

Haddin brushed off the results of a supporters' poll, which gave Clarke a 15% approval rating.

"The public reaction to all our players changes from week to week," he said. "Michael will do Australia proud."

Haddin added: "You're one good innings away - or sometimes one good cover drive away - from the support being with you."

TOM FORDYCE'S BLOG

England's victory in Melbourne on Wednesday ensured they retained the Ashes, but Australia can still draw the series with a victory in the Sydney Test, which starts at 2330 on 2 January.

Like Ponting, Clarke has been horribly out-of-form with the bat all series (148 runs in seven innings), while his captaincy of the Twenty20 and one-day sides, and celebrity lifestyle, have been criticised by the Australian media.

But according to Haddin, who has risen through Australia's ranks with Clarke, the 29-year-old has the support of the whole squad.

"We're 100% behind him," said Haddin. "He's the best man for the job now Ricky's out.

"I've played most of my first-class cricket with Michael and he deserves to be Australia captain.

"He's got a very good cricket brain. He's ready to do this job and he'll do a very, very good job."

On top of the leadership changes, Australia are likely to hand debuts to two young players in Sydney - batsman Usman Khawaja and spinner Michael Beer.

But Haddin said the focus would be on the task in hand rather than building for the future.

Usman Khawaja eager for Australia debut

Asked what the team's approach would be now that the chance to regain the urn had gone, Haddin replied: "To win - plain and simple.

"We're bitterly disappointed with losing the Ashes and we can't hide behind that.

"It still hurts but with sport these days you've got to get over it pretty quick and move on.

"We have lost the Ashes but we can still draw the series.

"The bottom line is we've got to win this Test match to get the series back to 2-2."


Squads for the fifth Test in Sydney:

England (from): Andrew Strauss (captain), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell, Matt Prior (wkt), Graeme Swann, Tim Bresnan, Chris Tremlett, James Anderson, Ajmal Shahzad, Steven Finn.

Australia (from): Michael Clarke (captain), Philip Hughes, Shane Watson, Usman Khawaja, Mike Hussey, Steve Smith, Brad Haddin (wkt), Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle, Michael Beer, Doug Bollinger.

Umpires: B Bowden (NZ) and A Dar (Pkn)

Third umpire: T Hill (NZ)

Match referee: R Madugalle (SL)



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see also
Ponting ruled out of Sydney Test
30 Dec 10 |  Australia
Ponting 'devastated' to miss Sydney
30 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Defiant Ponting vows to fight on
29 Dec 10 |  Australia
Flower seeks winning Ashes finale
30 Dec 10 |  England
Strauss demands Ashes series win
29 Dec 10 |  England
England seal win to retain Ashes
29 Dec 10 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
29 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Justin Langer column
29 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Harris ruled out for three months
29 Dec 10 |  Australia
England in Australia 2010-11
08 Oct 09 |  Cricket


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