‘There’s certainly no guarantee’ I will be fit in time for the Ashes, admits Michael Clarke

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“Where I sit right now is I don’t know when I’ll be back playing cricket”

Australia captain Michael Clarke has admitted “there’s certainly no guarantee” that his back injury will fully recover by the time the Ashes series against arch-rivals England begins on November 21 in Brisbane. 

Clarke decided not to travel with the national team for their limited overs tour of India as he chose to continue working towards being fully fit by the time England arrive in town. 

Since returning home from England, Clarke has undergone daily treatment for his chronic back pains and he is also working very closely with the Australian team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris. 

“There’s certainly no guarantee at this stage,” Clarke said. “It’s hard for me to say that because I’m trying my best not to look at it like that. I’m always positive and if they ask me, I’ll say I’ll be fit in a week’s time. But you ask Alex who knows me very well, and he’d say there’d be doubt I won’t be right. Making sure I’m doing everything I can to give myself the best chance … plenty of rehab and recovery getting strength back in the areas that support my back. It’s a lot of hard work but I’m willing to do the work to make sure I’m right for that first Test.

“Where I sit right now is I don’t know when I’ll be back playing cricket. We have no idea how long it’s going to take. But in Australia I’ve got the physio in Sydney I’ve been working with since I was 17, I’ve got the machine, the medics machine that’s helped me stay on the park for as long as I have through my career, and I’m in consistent contact with Alex Kountouris who will fly back and forth from Melbourne to Sydney to see me and make sure I’m improving.”

Clarke noted that the “best preparation” for the Ashes would be to regain full mobility as soon as possible so that he can play a couple of Sheffield Shield matches before the historic series gets underway. 

“My best preparation has always been to play cricket and score runs doesn’t matter what form of the game,” Clarke said. “If I’m playing games of cricket and performing that helps me take it into one day cricket or test cricket. I probably train harder than what you have to do in game so playing is probably easier for me mentally and physically with the work that goes into it.”

Australia are also dealing with the grim news of pace bowler James Pattinson, who recently sustained a lower back stress fracture. 

Pattinson recently admitted that his recovery period was behind schedule and he is hoping to make his comeback by the third Ashes Test on December 13 in Perth. 

“I’m not even running yet which is not great,” Pattinson said. “I get a scan in two weeks time which is a 12 week scan to determine whether the fracture has healed or not. Go from there, get results back from scan start running, should be fine. My back feels fine at the moment, I have no pain. Just a bit of a long process. I’m probably a month off bowling.

“I won’t be back for the first Test, don’t think I’ll be right for the second … but all things going well I could push for that WACA Test. If it’s a bit green we could play four quicks up there, but I’ll know more when I start bowling. I’m probably rushing a bit if I’m trying to get back for that first Test and last thing I want is for that to happen again and push my body too far and it’s hard enough going through it once without going through it again. Long term is where I’m looking.”

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