England v Australia, 3rd Test, Old Trafford August 14, 2005

Clarke's back troubles likely to persist

Cricinfo staff

Can Michael Clarke overcome? © Getty Images

In a worrying development for Michael Clarke and Australian cricket, Errol Alcott, the team physiotherapist, has revealed that the back problem that has hampered the player's participation in the third Test is, in all likelihood, here to stay. After attempting to ascertain the cause of Clarke's lower-back disc irritation, Alcott's initial assessment was that it could not be cured, though they would continue investigating the cause of this discomfort.

He stressed back-care management with Clarke, AFP reported. "We can't cure him, we can only treat him and make him functional again. Long term, I guess it's got to be of some concern to him. We're still trying to work out what's bringing on this problem."

Clarke had complained of tightness in the problem area during a warm-up before the Test began. Alcott wondered if he was overworking himself. "We have to go through his work diary and see if he's been doing three hours of fielding leading up to a Test match. Maybe we've got to reduce that down and not overuse that area."

Happily for Australia, Clarke's immediate condition was on the mend, and his pained stint at the crease on the second day did not hurt or hinder his progress. Alcott said they were working to have Clarke ready in time for the second innings. "[The second innings is] what we're aiming for," Alcott said, "for him to be unencumbered with his back pain so he can actually play shots because yesterday he was experiencing some difficulty with his shots.

"I think he is coming along really well. He didn't appear to upset his condition too much from his contribution yesterday [on Friday], which was fortunate for us. He is moving a lot more freely today. He's still got a few little signs of not being 100% yet but I am hopeful tomorrow he should be nearly right."