Clarke back from injury
Sydney - Australian captain Michael Clarke bounced back from a six-week injury layoff with a stylish 88 for his state side New South Wales on Wednesday in an ominous sign ahead of the Ashes.
Clarke has been plagued by chronic back problems since he was a teenager and was ruled out of Australia's ongoing one-day tour to India so he could rest and undergo intensive treatment.
At one point he feared he could miss the first Test against England starting on November 21 but made better-than-expected progress, launching his comeback in a Sheffield Shield clash Wednesday against Tasmania in Sydney, knocking 88 off 190 balls.
The 32-year-old -- widely seen as Australia's best batsman - played a watchful innings, facing 103 balls for his half century, before being caught by Clive Rose off paceman Sam Rainbird's bowling late in the day after valuable time in the middle.
Clarke is hoping to play in all three of NSW's Shield matches leading into the first Ashes Test in Brisbane.
In a column for The Sydney Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, he said his back was "no worse now than it has been for years".
"I have been dealing with it since I was 17," he said, noting he had only missed one Test in his entire career because of his back.
"I have degeneration in three of my discs which require constant maintenance. That means I will always experience some stiffness and pain."