Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Australia captain Michael Clarke has been included in the squad for the first Test against India in Brisbane even though he is currently recovering from a hamstring injury.
Clarke re-injured his hamstring during the first ODI against South Africa in Perth.
“My goal is to try and get myself fit to play whatever game’s available,” Clarke said. “The next game on the table that I am available for, if I can be fit, is grade cricket on Saturday. So ideally if I can tick all the boxes along the way and play on Saturday, get through that. Hopefully I can make myself available then it is completely up to the selectors to work out what to do.
“My focus is listening to the experts as I’ve always done. Over the last 10, 12 years I’ve been playing for Australia I don’t think I’ve ever walked onto a field not being 100 per cent fit to perform. So I would hope with my experience that the selectors, my teammates, Cricket Australia staff respect my opinion there.”
However, national selectors Rod Marsh and Mark Waugh have told Clarke that he will not play the first Test unless he starts running by Wednesday.
“If he doesn’t start running by Wednesday, then I think we can safely assume that he won’t be playing the Test match,” Marsh said.
Waugh added: “A few days ago, the selectors spoke about it and Pat Howard spoke about it as well. Ideally it would have been great if he played in the Shield match but the time frame just didn’t allow that with his injury. So we went for the next best thing and we feel he needs a couple days of cricket to prove his fitness – it’s a five-day game Test match cricket, so we felt that was the best way for him to prove his fitness in a two-day game.”
Team doctor Peter Brukner also stated that it is too early to tell whether Clarke will be fit in time for the first Test, which gets underway on December 4.
“We still have some time before having to make a final decision on Michael’s fitness,” he said. “As you would expect, he’s desperate to play and we are doing all that we can to ensure he can do just that. Over the coming days the plan is to build him up so that he can resume running with the ultimate aim of getting him some high-intensity match practice ahead of the first Test.”
While Clarke’s place in the side is still in limbo, it has been announced that all-rounder Glenn Maxwell and left-arm seamer Mitchell Starc have been dropped.
However, pace bowler Josh Hazlewood could make his Test debut after being included in the 12-man squad.
Fellow pace bowler Ryan Harris is also set to make his international comeback after undergoing knee surgery in March.
“Josh is a young player of great talent and he thoroughly deserves this opportunity,” Marsh said. “He has impressed in the recent one-day series and we are excited to see what he can produce if given the opportunity in Brisbane.
“Ryan has worked extremely hard to return to elite cricket following his knee surgery. We know what a quality player he is. He will play in this upcoming round of Sheffield Shield to get more bowling under his belt but we are all hopeful he will be ready for a big summer of cricket.”
Australia Test squad: Chris Rogers, David Warner, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke (capt), Steven Smith, Mitchell Marsh, Brad Haddin (vice-capt, wk), Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.