West Indies in Australia 2009-10 November 11, 2009

Confident Clarke on comeback trail

Cricinfo staff

Michael Clarke remains hopeful of playing in the first Test against West Indies on November 26 and may be given as much time as possible to prove he has recovered from a back injury. Usually the selectors want the players to appear in a first-class match before a Test, but Clarke told the Australian there had been no demand that he turn out for New South Wales in the Sheffield Shield next week.

"I'm very keen to have a hit to prepare for the Test," the vice-captain Clarke said. "If I could play in the four-day match, that would be ideal."

Clarke was due to fly to Melbourne on Wednesday for a session with Alex Kountouris, Australia's physiotherapist, to plan his way back from the degenerative condition. Clarke missed the Champions Trophy and India one-day tours due to the problem and has only returned to the nets this week.

"That's normal for him, to start batting about a fortnight before a Test series," Kountouris said. "He's been playing for about five months straight, so it's not the skills we're worried about."

Kountouris said it was important for Clarke to have a break after such a busy schedule. "He's got some critical tests which have to be clear and hopefully we can go from there," he said. "I expect to see [on Wednesday] that he's very good and expect to give him the all-clear to start playing."

New South Wales face Tasmania in an FR Cup game on Sunday before their four-day match starts on Tuesday. While Clarke seems set for a more comfortable ride, Brett Lee will have to prove his fitness after an elbow injury during the Sheffield Shield contest to have a chance of joining the Test squad.