Injured Clarke struggles
Brisbane - Australia's decision to play an apparently injured Michael Clarke in the first Ashes Test is sure to be questioned after he struggled for just nine runs in the first innings here on Friday.
Clarke went into the first Test under an injury cloud when a long-standing back disk injury flared up while he was playing in a Sheffield Shield match earlier this month.
He was rested for the subsequent Shield match against Tasmania last week but was cleared for the opening Test, the Australian vice-captain dismissing the injury as a minor complaint.
However, he appeared restricted in the field during England's first innings on Thursday and looked ever worse during his laboured innings at the crease.
Clarke took an age to get off the mark, surviving a confident caught behind shout before he had scored, then battled for 50 balls before getting a top edge to wicketkeeper Matt Prior off a Steven Finn short ball.
His end was almost inevitable as he never once looked like the elegant batsmen who averages almost 56 in Ashes Test matches.
With the under-pressure Marcus North also falling cheaply on Friday, selectors will be anxiously watching Clarke over the next few days as he is a key batsman in Australia's quest to regain the Ashes.
He scored two centuries and averaged 64 in Australia's losing series in England last year and also hit two hundreds in the last home Ashes series, averaging almost 78 batting at number four or five.
The stylish right-hander has compiled 14 centuries in 64 Tests at an average of 48.91 and his back complaint permitting could be called on during the series to trundle down his left-arm finger-spinners which have netted him 21 wickets.