ICC Champions Trophy

Aussies ponder Clarke fitness

2013-06-06 21:18
Michael Clarke (AFP)
London - Australia could decide as soon as later Thursday whether captain Michael Clarke is fit to face England in their Champions Trophy opener at Edgbaston on Saturday.

The 32-year-old batsman is doubtful for the match, the first Anglo-Australian clash of an Ashes season, after aggravating a longstanding back problem upon arriving in the United Kingdom.

Clarke left Australia's training camp for specialist treatment in London on Wednesday and Australia physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said Clarke was "in a race against time" to be fit for Saturday.

And if he doesn't play this weekend defending champions Australia, bidding for a third straight Champions Trophy crown, may decide it is not worth risking Clarke in the one-day tournament ahead of next month's first Test against England in Nottingham.

"We're hoping to make a decision on him reasonably quickly," Kountoris told Cricket Australia's website on Thursday. "He's been in London since yesterday to do the treatment that he usually gets.

"We are trying to maximise the time he has got over there so sometime tonight or tomorrow we'll make that decision (whether he plays against England)."

Without Clarke, Australia collapsed to 65 all out in a warm-up match against India this week and Kountouris added: "We are just trying to get him right. He has had this before so we know how it plays out and we know the treatment that he needs to get him right.

"But being such a short tournament we're racing against time to get him fit.

"We certainly won't be taking any risks. It is a really important time of the year for us, that goes without saying.

"This is an important tournament too so we'll get him up for whatever games we can and won't take any stupid risks.

"Firstly he needs to be pain free, which he's not at the moment.

"The we need to put him through a series of tests, get him running and batting and get him doing things he'd normally do.

"We need him training at full intensity before we get him on the park."

Earlier this year the problem, which he has had since he was a teenager, forced New South Wales' Clarke to return home early from Australia's 4-0 Test series drubbing in India.

"He gets little tiny setbacks and we manage them and they get better in a day or two days," Kountouris said. "We're just hoping this is no different in this case.

"He was disappointed when it first happened but he's a pretty resilient guy and he is just focused on what he has to do.

"He's really motivated and professional about how he goes about about he's rehab."

Kountouris denied the latest flare-up had been caused by the lengthy flight from Australia, saying: "It's just one of those things; hard to know what the cause of it is. He was just batting in the nets and just felt it."


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