Ashes - Clarke: Ponting has my number

Australia captain Michael Clarke says Ricky Ponting will have to make the first move in order to settle the feud sparked by comments the former skipper made in his autobiography.

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Ashes - Clarke: Ponting has my number
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Australia captain Michael Clarke (left) says Ricky Ponting (right) will have to make the first move in order to settle the feud sparked by comments the former skipper made in his autobiography.

The pair have not spoken since Ponting criticised Clarke's performance as vice-captain as well as his former relationship with model Lara Bingle in his recently released book, 'At the Close of Play'.

"I've said what I had to say on that issue," Clarke, who is hopeful of making his return from a back injury for New South Wales on Wednesday, said when quizzed on Ponting's remarks.

"For me, it's about preparing for tomorrow's game (against Tasmania) and looking forward to a huge game.

"I'm very focused on cricket and I certainly won't let anything take my mind off that.

"Ricky has my number and we've spoken for the last 15 years so I don't think anything will change.

"I'm very focused on what's in front of me and making sure I'm as well prepared as I can be for this first Sheffield Shield game and then obviously a huge (Australian) summer ahead."

Meanwhile, Clarke has been encouraged by recent strong performances from a number of Test incumbents and hopefuls ahead of the Ashes opener in Brisbane, beginning on November 21.

"I think what's been really exciting at the start of this year has not only been the guys' performances in India but also the guys performing in the Ryobi Cup as well," Clarke said.

"I think we've seen a lot of batters put their hands up and make runs, so they'll be at the front of the selectors' minds, and I think the bowlers on pretty flat wickets have done a fantastic job as well."

Clarke also dismissed concerns over Australia's poor batting performances in their past two Test series against India and England.

"I think there's been some great performances as well," he said. "I think individual players have really stood up.

"We've seen Steve Smith make his first Test hundred, Chris Rogers make his first Test hundred and Watto (Shane Watson) get his highest Test score in England recently, so I think we've seen some real positives as well."

Asked if England deserved to enter the series as favourites following their 3-0 series victory on home turf earlier this year, Clarke said: "If you decide they're favourites, yeah.

"I think for us it's about making sure we're as well prepared as we can be and we play our best cricket, and I'm confident if we do those two things we can win the series."

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