Western Australian cricket July 8, 2004

Michael Clark fit and ready to return

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Michael Clark: all set to return to domestic action © Getty Images

Michael Clark, the left-arm swing bowler from Western Australia, has confirmed his fitness and is looking forward to the beginning of the next season. Clark was the leading bowler for Western Australia in 2002-03, with 38 wickets in the Pura Cup games. But the onset of stress fractures limited him to only two ING Cup matches last season.

Clark, 26, had a screw inserted into his spine at the end of last season after which he underwent an intensive rehabilitation program under David Edgar, the Western Australian physiotherapist. Clark, though bowling at only half his pace at the moment, is projected to be bowling at 90% by the end of July.

"It's good to be bowling again," Clark said, "and I'm just ironing out a few kinks at the moment. Hopefully come August or September I'll be back at full pace. It's been frustrating considering I felt like I had a pretty good year a couple of seasons ago and it would have been ideal to come in and back that up."

Having missed almost the entire season last year, Clark was really looking ahead to the start of domestic action this time. "Hopefully this is my time and it's out of the way now. It's one of those things a lot of guys go through. Coming from virtually no cricket to four-day stuff was pretty strenuous. It has been pretty painful. When I was trying to come back last year in Launceston I was pumped with painkillers and it didn't make any difference."

Clark was touted as an Australia A prospect before his unfortunate breakdown in 2003. "I felt I had a pretty good year two seasons ago with a lot of room for improvement. So that's what I have got to do now to get to the next level. There is a bit of a changing of the guard there so hopefully some opportunities come up. Hopefully I can start where I left off a couple of years ago."

Edgar felt that Clark would be fitter and stronger than at any time in the past two years and added, "In the last six or seven weeks of his rehab program he has come along really well. His rehabilitation program had emphasised a lot of core stability work in terms of the deep muscles of the spine. His operation where a screw went into the back is protecting that now."

Edgar also added that it was highly unlikely that Clark would suffer a recurrence of the stress fractures. "The outlook for him now is a lot brighter than it was at this time last year. Michael should be bowling at full speed by August and we expect him to be available for selection in the ING and Pura Cup matches in October."

Western Australia's first game of 2004-05 is a day-night ING Cup clash against Tasmania at the WACA on October 15.