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In profile: Australia's Ashes squad

Sports Mole takes a closer look at the 17 Australian players that will be hoping to retain The Ashes in England this summer.

The Ashes may not get underway until July, but yesterday Cricket Australia announced the 17-man squad that will be charged with the task of retaining the urn on English shores.

Prior to that, the Aussies will warm-up by playing two Tests against the West Indies in June.

Here, Sports Mole has taken a closer look at each member of the squad.


CAPTAIN

Michael Clarke

Australian captain Michael Clarke receives a standing ovation as he leaves the field following his dismissal for his 148 run innings against England during day two of the second Ashes Test cricket match in Adelaide on December 6, 2013© Getty Images

Age: 33
Tests: 108
Runs: 8.432
Batting average: 50.79

Despite being a World Cup and Ashes-winning captain, Clarke is not roundly adored by the Australian faithful. Throughout an eventful career, he has gone from hero to villain and then back again.

Skippering the Aussies to a first Ashes win in England since 2001 would certainly help his cause. The tactical on-field knowledge that he displayed during the 2013-14 whitewash should hold him in good stead, as will his relationship with head coach Darren Lehmann.


VICE-CAPTAIN

Steve Smith

Australian batsman Steve Smith raises his bat after reaching his century on the first day of the fifth Ashes cricket Test against England at the Sydney Cricket Ground on January 3, 2014© Getty Images

Age: 25
Tests: 26
Runs: 2,304
Batting average: 52.36

Australia's new number three? Chairman of Selectors Rod Marsh certainly believes that he should be. An average of 52.36 from 26 outings would very strongly suggest that he is made for that position.

Despite being just 25, it is widely expected that Smith will take over the captaincy role from Clarke, which could well be after the upcoming tour of England.


BATSMEN

Shaun Marsh

Shaun Marsh of Australia looks on during an Australian nets session at Newlands Stadium on February 28, 2014© Getty Images

Age: 31
Tests: 12
Runs: 747
Batting average: 35.57

If anybody is going to dislodge Shane Watson, Marsh appears to be the most likely candidate. With Clarke now back to full fitness and certain to regain his place, one of either Marsh or Watson will have to budge.

He will have done his chances of selection no harm by scoring a recent unbeaten 164 for Western Australia in front of watching selector Trevor Hohns.


Chris Rogers

Australia's Chris Rogers takes a catch off England's batsman Stuart Broad at the boundary line to wind up England's first innings during day two of the first Ashes cricket Test match between England and Australia at the Gabba Cricket Ground in Brisbane on© Getty Images

Age: 37
Tests: 20
Runs: 1,535
Batting average: 39.35

At the age of 37, there was some doubt as to whether this would be an Ashes series too many for Rogers. Indeed, speaking at a press conference, Marsh admitted as much.

His experience swung it, though. Having spent plenty of time playing in the County Championship, the opener's knowledge of English wickets may well prove to be invaluable.


Adam Voges

Adam Voges in action on March 24, 2015© Getty Images

Age: 35
Tests: 0
Runs: N/A
Batting average: N/A

Well into the autumn of his career, Voges probably thought that his chances of pulling on the baggy green had long gone, but not so.

The 1,358 runs that he scored in the Sheffield Shield - a tournament in which he was voted the best player - were too difficult to ignore. Not just a big scorer of runs, he's also entertaining at the crease.


David Warner

Australian batsman David Warner celebrates making his 100 runs on the third day of the third Ashes cricket Test match against England in Perth on December 15, 2013© Getty Images

Age: 28
Tests: 36
Runs: 3,133
Batting average: 48.20

He will be the pantomime villain in England, not that Warner will mind too much! Punching Joe Root in a bar during the summer of 2013 will mean that he will forever be roundly jeered on English shores.

The boo-boys, though, seem to fire up the batsman. He possesses the weaponry to take a game away from the opposition in a single session.


BOWLERS

Fawad Ahmed:

Fawad Ahmed of Victoria walks off holding the ball up high after taking eight wickets during day two of the Sheffield Shield final match between Victoria and Western Australia at Blundstone Arena on March 22, 2015© Getty Images

Age 33
Tests: 0
Wickets: N/A
Bowling average: N/A

As an asylum seeker from Pakistan, Fawad was granted Australian citizenship in 2013, only to be overlooked in favour of young spinner Ashton Agar for that year's Ashes.

However, having topped the Sheffield Shield tally with 48 wickets, he's been included this time around. With the ability to cause problems to left-handers (England may have seven in their XI), he could end up playing a big role.


Ryan Harris

Ryan Harris of Australia celebrates after bowling Ian Bell of England during day three of the 3rd Investec Ashes Test match on August 3, 2013© Getty Images

Age: 35
Tests: 27
Wickets: 113
Bowling average: 23.52

The right-armer will not be in the West Indies, but on this occasion there are no fitness concerns. He is staying behind with his wife, who is due to give birth to the couple's first child.

In truth, Harris booked his place on this tour with his display during the 2013-14 Ashes. He took an impressive 22 wickets at an average of 19.31.


Josh Hazlewood

Josh Hazlewood of Australia celebrates taking the wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara of India during day four of the 2nd Test match between Australia and India at The Gabba on December 20, 2014© Getty Images

Age: 24
Tests: 3
Wickets: 12
Bowling average: 29.33

The paceman has certainly benefited from adding some strength to his quite considerable frame over the last 12 months.

A five-for on his Test debut against India late last year will have done his confidence no harm heading into the trip to the Caribbean and England. It's little surprise that Cricket Australia has rewarded his development with a contract.


Mitchell Johnson

Mitchell Johnson of Australia celebrates winning the second test during day five of Second Ashes Test Match between Australia and England at Adelaide Oval on December 9, 2013© Getty Images

Age: 33
Tests: 64
Wickets: 283
Bowling average: 27.84

The Barmy Army once had a song about Johnson, which was less than complimentary about his bowling. It came to the fore during the 2010-11 Ashes when a badly out-of-form Johnson was dropped.

Credit to him, though, because he responded in the best way possible during the 2013-14 Tests. The critics - and the Barmy Army - were certainly silenced as he took an amazing 37 wickets, which was 15 more than any other player.


Nathan Lyon

Nathan Lyon of Australia celebrates after taking the wicket of Wriddhiman Saha of India during day five of the Fourth Test match between Australia and India at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 10, 2015© Getty Images

Age: 27
Tests: 39
Wickets: 138
Bowling average: 35.63

Graeme Swann, perhaps mainly due to a persistent elbow injury, found it impossible to turn the ball during the 2013-14 series, only for Lyon to prove that it could be done.

Following his 19-wicket haul, he carried on that form against India in December. In Adelaide, he took a personal best 5-134 and 7-152, earning him the Man of the Match award.


Peter Siddle

Australia's Peter Siddle in action during day three of the 5th Ashes Test at the Oval on August 23, 2013© Getty Images

Age 30
Tests: 56
Wickets: 192
Bowling average: 30.45

In his recent autobiography, Kevin Pietersen conceded that Siddle was perhaps the most difficult bowler that he has faced. The reason, Pietersen cited, was that the seamer was so patient.

He will certainly have a point to prove over the next few months. He may have been included in this squad, but he has not been awarded a contract by Cricket Australia. England will be hoping that he doesn't prove them wrong.


Mitchell Starc

Mitchel Starc of Australia celebrates after taking the wicket of Suresh Raina of India during day five of the Fourth Test match between Australia and India at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 10, 2015© Getty Images

Age 25
Tests: 15
Wickets: 50
Bowling average: 35.44

Having proved himself to be the world's best one-day international bowler at the Cricket World Cup, Starc will no doubt be determined to carry those performances into the Test arena.

Capable of bowling 90mph+, this Ashes could be the making of Starc. His Test form to date has been patchy, but in his defence, he's never been given an extended run in the side.


ALL-ROUNDERS

Mitchell Marsh

Mitchell Marsh of Australia bats during day three of the 2nd Test match between Australia and India at The Gabba on December 19, 2014© Getty Images

Age: 23
Tests: 4
Runs: 262
Batting average: 37.42
Wickets: 1
Bowling average: 164.00

Rumour has it that the younger of the Marsh brothers could have played Australian Rules Football, but opted for cricket. His inclusion in this squad suggests that he made the right decision.

His four Test appearances aside, Marsh impressed for Australia A last July when he scored 174 runs against India A.


Shane Watson

Shane Watson of Australia leaves the ground after being run out for 103 runs during day four of the Third Ashes Test Match between Australia and England at WACA on December 16, 2013© Getty Images

Age: 33
Tests: 56
Runs: 3,646
Batting average: 35.74
Wickets: 74
Bowling average: 33.09

For someone that made his Test debut in 2005, it seems strange that someone of Watson's talent has made just 56 appearances in the baggy green.

There are questions marks as to whether he will feature in the XI this time around, but he has shown in the past that he can produce the goods against England. His last two Test centuries have come against the old enemy.


WICKETKEEPERS

Brad Haddin

Australian batsman Brad Haddin celebrates scoring a century against England during day two of the second Ashes Test cricket match in Adelaide on December 6, 2013© Getty Images

Age: 37
Tests: 63
Runs: 3,207
Catches: 251

If Australia are successful in their bid to retain the little urn, they will surely try to keep Haddin from making an intoxicated appearance on the radio!

An experienced campaigner, Haddin is a steady and reliable influence. Only Warner could better his return of 493 runs during the 2013-14 Ashes.


Peter Nevill

Peter Nevill of New South Wales bats during day four of the Sheffield Shield match between Victoria and New South Wales at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on November 3, 2014© Getty Images

Age: 29
Tests: 0
Runs: N/A
Catches: N/A

The gloveman is another player that has forced his way into the squad courtesy of his form in the Sheffield Shield.

His 764 runs for New South Wales, which included a career-best 235 not out against Tasmania last month, made him a more appealing back-up option to the selectors then Matthew Wade.


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Nathan Lyon of Australia leads the team song on the pitch after day five of the Third Ashes Test Match between Australia and England at WACA on December 17, 2013
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Monday's key events


TRIATHLON
· Jonny Brownlee will look to make the most of his brother Alistair's absence as he goes for gold in the men's triathlon (10.30pm-1am)

RUGBY SEVENS
· Team GB get their campaign underway with two matches, against Canada and Japan (from 1.30am)

SWIMMING
· One of Team GB's biggest gold medal hopes, Adam Peaty will take part in the 100m breaststroke final. (3.12am)
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DIVING
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ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
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