Cricket World Cup 2015

Oz pleased with Clarke hit-out

2015-02-11 16:30
Michael Clarke (AFP)

Melbourne - Michael Clarke gave a pointer to his recovery from recent hamstring surgery with a knock of 64 in Australia's World Cup warm-up game against the United Arab Emirates in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Clarke, captaining Australia for the first time since the surgery almost two months ago, spent just over 90 minutes at the crease in a confidence-booster at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The 33-year-old was promoted to opener to maximise his time in the middle, and offered a sharp chance on two after winning the toss.

He steadied and kept the scoreboard ticking over in a 123-run partnership with Aaron Finch.

National selectors will now assess Clarke on Thursday before considering the merits of an earlier-than-expected recall for Saturday's World Cup opener against England at the MCG.

"We'll sum it up tomorrow, see how he pulls up more than anything," coach Darren Lehmann told Fox Sports, issuing a guarded prognosis for when Clarke will return.

"Probably the fielding is going to be the big thing.

"He's been batting really well for the last couple of weeks, so no dramas there.

"We'll see how he goes in the field, but we're really pleased with that start and he's been really confident."

Finch said Clarke was desperate to play at the World Cup.

"It's so impressive to see how hard he has worked. But it's a home World Cup and probably his last opportunity at winning a World Cup, so he wants to be a part of it," said Finch.

Clarke's opening partner added: "When we were out there we ran a four and then a one back-to-back. I said 'that'll be front-page news tomorrow, that's your fitness test right there'. He seemed fine."

"I thought from his point of view it would have been a great success. We'll have to wait and see how he pulls up. From what I saw at the other end he played beautifully, his feet moved well, he hit the ball cleanly and ran well."

Chief selector Rod Marsh nominated February 21, when Australia face Bangladesh, as Clarke's final fitness deadline, with the skipper to be dropped from the squad if he is not up to scratch by then.

Clarke was initially given little hope of making the deadline, but he has exceeded expectations in his recovery.

"He played really well," Lehmann said of the side's top-scorer.

Lehmann and fellow selectors would have had limited interest in Clarke's eight boundaries, more so his running between the wickets.

There was no sharp acceleration or turns, and the right-hander looked to be running within himself at times.

But Clarke managed an all-run four and followed it up with a quick single, suggesting he is shaping up well for the World Cup.

Australia eventually made 304-8 in 50 overs with Finch adding 61 and Steve Smith, 59.

The United Arab Emirates were 116 all out in 30.1 overs to hand Australia a win by 188 runs.

Read more on:    australia  |  cwc 2015  |  michael clarke  |  cricket

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