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Clarke: Zimbabwe not a token tour

Sydney: Captain Michael Clarke on Wednesday insisted Australia’s visit to Zimbabwe was not a “token tour” or World Cup audition but was all about winning as players return to international action.

A 14-man squad departed Wednesday for Harare to play a two-week series that also involves South Africa — Australia’s first international commitment since the ICC World T20 in Bangladesh more than four months ago.

“I think it will be a tough series. It’s not a token tour, it’s about winning,” said Clarke.

Several key players are absent, including injured all-rounder Shane Watson, fast bowler Ryan Harris and father-to-be David Warner.

This has opened the door for the likes of Phil Hughes, Mitch Marsh, Ben Cutting and Kane Richardson to stake their claim to a regular first-team place.

Clarke said he expected them all to make the most of their chance and put pressure on the players not travelling.

“Obviously it is unfortunate that we have a few injuries, but it's exciting for people like Mitch Marsh; Phil Hughes gets an opportunity, as does Kane Richardson and Ben Cutting,” he said. “It’s a good chance for them to grab their opportunity.”