Australia v India, 1st Test, Adelaide, 5th day December 13, 2014

Clarke admits he may never play again

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Brettig: Clarke's future in the hands of physios

Australia's captain Michael Clarke has admitted he may never play again after chronic back and hamstring problems overtook him during the first Test against India in Adelaide.

Clarke ruled himself out of the remainder of the series following the dramatic and emotional victory on Saturday afternoon, a conclusion he watched from the sidelines after going to hospital where scans confirmed a tear to his right hamstring.

This added to the recurrence of back trouble he suffered on day one, and the left hamstring strains that had upset his preparations for this series. All together they are enough to mean Clarke will not be seen again at least until the preliminaries of Australia's World Cup campaign in January.

But having grappled with his back problem in particular since it emerged during his teenage years, Clarke has pondered often the length of his career. He was genuinely frank in conceding that at 33 the protests of his body were only getting louder with age.

"The experts are looking at scans now, I don't know exactly how long I'm going to be out for," Clarke said. "I think the World Cup, our first practice game is eight weeks away, I'd love to take part in the tri-series, I'd love to take part in the World Cup but I just have to wait and see.

"There's no doubt there's certainly a chance [I will miss the World Cup], well there's a chance I may never play again. I hope that's not the case and I'll be doing everything in my power to get back out on the park but I have to be realistic as well.

"I think my body in general there's always that risk. This is a different hamstring, I did my left hamstring, I've done my right side of my back, I've just done my right hammy. I've got injury concerns at the moment, now I've got to go back and do what the experts tell me to give myself my best chance of being fully fit. But I think I have to be honest with myself and have a good hard think about things, definitely."

Despite these words, Clarke said he did not for one moment regret either pushing to play in the match without having played any cricket since he suffered a left hamstring strain against South Africa in Perth in November, nor returning to the wicket to bat on day two after retiring hurt when his back flared up on the first afternoon. Given his closeness to Phillip Hughes and the emotional weight of returning to play after his death, Clarke called it "the most important Test match of my career".

"I have no regrets about playing this Test match, I have no regrets about going back on the field after I retired hurt," he said. "I am extremely thankful that Alex Kountouris and Doctor Peter Brukner did everything they could to give me a chance to get on the park in this Test match firstly, but then to walk out and score some runs. The rest will take care of itself. I will be guided by the experts and hopefully I'll get another opportunity to play again this summer."

Once Clarke had been passed fit to play in Adelaide, he was duty-bound to make every effort to return to the field despite his back condition, this he did through a combination of injections, painkillers and constant work from Australia's physio Alex Kountouris.

"My back was quite sore," Clarke said. "I needed some injections and some medication to get me back out onto the park, but I've said before that's part of playing international sport, people do it on a daily basis. Once you walk into the game you have to do whatever it takes to finish that game and it was really important for me to walk back out the next morning.

"India had just taken the second new ball, India had taken three wickets at the end of that day with the new ball so I thought it was important for the team that I got out there and even if I couldn't make runs just see the new ball off to give our tail every opportunity."

Shaun Marsh has been added to the squad for the Brisbane Test as a replacement for Clarke, having also been part of the squad for the Adelaide Test before being released to play in the Sheffield Shield. Mitchell Starc has also been added to the squad ahead of the Brisbane Test as an extra bowling option.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Srinivas on December 16, 2014, 18:08 GMT

    Feel sorry for Clarke. It is better for him to retire now. Good luck to him in his post-retirement life.

  • damien on December 15, 2014, 10:23 GMT

    @Johan Kotze 8400 test runs @ 50+ 7500 ODI runs @44 , best test figures of 6/9 best ODI figures of 5/35, 28 test hundreds ,10 scores of 150+, 3 double hundreds , 1 triple hundred, only man to score 200+ 4 times in a calendar year, multiple wisden cricketer of the year titles, brilliant captain , brilliant fieldsman and he is not a true great? I am here to tell you that history will most certainly show he is a great of the game and very firmly entrenched in the elite bracket of the sport. These stats certainly look past "narrow aussie interests" sorry but THAT is the way it is.

  • Umair on December 15, 2014, 5:20 GMT

    Hats off to Clark, in my opinion he is one of the best sportsman in cricketing history. He could have more records than anyone else but due to injuries he faced during his carrier forced him to sit outside most of the time. I wish to see Clark in his last world cup.

  • Dummy on December 15, 2014, 4:33 GMT

    @andrew scott.. hey bro you better not talk about cricket just talk about footy. Here we are talking about Michael Clark who playing cricket. Not some one play footy, Please stop your worthless aguments about michael's talents. He is a one of great batsmen ausie got. Thats why he is the captain of australia and we need him and if um right. If he playing the way you saing he is nit coming this far.(may be watching cricket at home like you do) I hope Michael get better soon.

  • Chandrasekhar on December 15, 2014, 4:23 GMT

    @electric_loco_WAP4, what about the howlers that India got - Dhawan and Rahane, perhaps the match could have gone India way. This will be an interesting cricket series if Dhoni continues to attack instead of going in to defensive shell

  • Peter on December 15, 2014, 2:20 GMT

    @andrew scott. Seriously, you think Clarke doesn't play spin well? Steve Waugh & Allan Border also came in @ #5, they are also in the same boat? FYI, Clarke has played some cracking knocks against South Africa, arguably the best quick bowling attack around, that doesn't count? Interesting take however,sunshine, you are very much in the minority in this case, cheers.

  • Dummy4 on December 14, 2014, 15:31 GMT

    Michael Clark has an batting average over 50 in test cricket. He always scored heavily againt my team, the Proteas. We salute him therefore for his skills, but do not regard hinm as an all-time great in cricket, in any case not no-where near Benaud, Harvey, O'neil, Davidson. Waugh, Ponting, Warne, McGraw, etc. I do not know why, perhaps he never bridged that gap between a great cricketer and a player looking beyond narrow Australian interests. Sorry thats the way it is.

  • Mark on December 14, 2014, 15:02 GMT

    I hope Micheal Clarke recovers quickly. He is a terrific cricketer and a good captain for Australia. Australia has gone from strength to strength since he took over teaming up with Darren Lehmann. I wish all the best and very speedy recovery. As a cricket fan I would love to see him continue to play cricket for Australia for many many more years yet. All the best Micheal Clarke. Get fully fit soon. I want to see you continue to play international cricket. You provide great entertainment with your batsmanship skills.

  • jared on December 14, 2014, 7:53 GMT

    surely this isn't the end for Clarke, he's an aussie they don't know how to give up, current test proves that, at 33 he should have 4-5 seasons left in him, only the best play into their late 30's but he is one of the best, maybe he has to give up on this season and get his body right, maybe just concentrate on tests or something like that but not give up for good, too young and the world would be robbed of a batting great, I hope he can play though the pain for a few more seasons yet.

  • sam on December 14, 2014, 7:44 GMT

    Another drawback of such an arrangement can be explained with this test itself taken as a prime eg. for instance.As we saw a couple of the most blatent howlers involved using hawk eye if it was to be reversed.These 2 crucial lbw decions went against Aus.