Katich fit but Clarke concerns
Australia opener Simon Katich says he is fit for the Ashes, but Michael Clarke is struggling with a back injury.
Last Updated: 13/11/10 6:33pm
Australia opener Simon Katich has declared himself a certain starter for the first Ashes Test in Brisbane after returning from injury.
Katich made a successful return to grade cricket to prove his fitness, but vice-captain Michael Clarke is still troubled by a back injury that delayed him from batting in New South Wales' clash with Victoria.
Clarke sat out most of day three and more than two sessions on day four after re-injuring his back during his first-innings century.
The in-form top order batsman finally made his way to the crease at 4.23pm local time on Saturday following the fall of the sixth wicket.
Clarke, who survived a huge lbw appeal early, appeared to wince in pain at times and dropped to his haunches between some overs.
He insists the back complaint will not be a problem during the Ashes, but the national selectors will want to be convinced of his fitness before naming their 15-man first Test squad on Monday.
Playing for Randwick-Petersham against Manly in Sydney grade cricket, Katich scored 94 in just over two hours to prove he has overcome a thumb injury.
Coming in at three, the veteran left-hander hit two sixes and nine fours before being caught at backward square leg six runs short of his century.
He batted without pain and will now step up his preparation for this month's Ashes opener by playing for NSW against Ricky Ponting's Tasmania in a Sheffield Shield match in Sydney next week.
"It's a handy score. It's good to spend time in the middle and score some runs," Katich told Sportal shortly after his dismissal on Saturday.
"The hand feels good. I've been training down at the SCG the last few days and there's been no problem batting.
"There were no real surprises I pulled up okay and I'll be ready to go in next week's Shield match."
"There was never any doubt that I was going to be right for that game."
Test paceman Doug Bollinger also made a successful return to grade cricket with Fairfield, as he works his way back from a side strain.
The left-armer was restricted to a maximum of 14 overs but took a wicket in two sharp spells.