Aus v Ind, Champions Trophy warm-up, Cardiff June 4, 2013

Clarke's back causes Australia concern


Four days before Australia's opening Champions Trophy match against England, Michael Clarke will visit a specialist in London after his long-standing back problem flared up and ruled him out of the warm-up match against India after he also missed the West Indies game.

Clarke has had to manage his back condition through the majority of his international career so the fact that he is having further investigation will not cause overdue alarm although the timing is hardly ideal for Australia.

Cricket Australia physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said: "Michael is still experiencing some lower back pain and as such is not fit for the warm-up game against India today. Michael will head to London tomorrow for specialist treatment and a decision on his fitness for next game will be made in due course."

Clarke sat out Australia's four-wicket victory against West Indies in the first warm-up match, in Cardiff last Saturday, with George Bailey taking over as interim captain. Clarke had batted in the indoor nets ahead of the second match against India but was not part of the playing eleven as Australia named an unchanged team.

In March, Clarke was forced to miss the final Test against India, in Delhi, after his back problems surfaced and Shane Watson stood in as captain. However, Watson has ruled himself out of filling in the leadership again after his troublesome tour of India.

"At this point in time absolutely not," he said. "I stepped down as vice-captain for a number of different reasons but at this point in time, it was certainly the best thing for the team. I'm just here to get the best out of myself and help as much as I always do anyway."

If Clarke's problems reoccur during the Ashes, Brad Haddin would be the likeliest person to step into the captaincy. Before leaving Australia, Clarke had spoken about his confidence at the back issues not being a major problem.

"I'm confident it'll be no different to what it has been through my career. I've managed to play 90-odd Test matches and only miss one through my career," he said. "That's a big part of why preparation is so important for me, I need to make sure I'm fit, need to make sure I'm not carrying too much weight, I need to make sure I'm putting in the work to be fit in eight or 12 months' time."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Firdaus on June 7, 2013, 2:32 GMT

    Rest him for this match, and the whole CT if necessary. It holds absolutely no importance when you look at the series that follows it. Clarke also has experience in English conditions, so the CT doesn't even need to act as a warm-up. Australia have a decent ODI team, while in tests they are woefully inadequate without Clarke.

    That said, I really hope his back doesn't get worse and force him into early retirement. That would be a terrible loss for Australia, and world cricket.

  • Anupam on June 6, 2013, 8:23 GMT

    The day he became the captain the problems started. He axed senior Katich the opening problem started. He axed seniors due to respect. I read in one column no one like him. Watson suffered, Haddin & MJ lost their place and Strac, Cowan, Warner, Mr.Spinner (lyon), Mr.Drop-it (M.Waste), Mr.Condition performs if & only conditions are good Hughes got permanent place. Blame & excuses for the loss like pitch, DRS, spinner, Pizza, coffee, etc instead of poor batting, bowling, WK, leadership, selection. Now law is going to change due to Ashes fear.

  • Andrew on June 6, 2013, 6:30 GMT

    @Behind_the_bowlers_arm on (June 5, 2013, 11:46 GMT) - ahhh love it, we been pantsed & you still get a quality sledge in "...given Englands alternatives are Dernbach and any passing Irish bowler..." - lovely!!!!!!

  • Dummy4 on June 5, 2013, 14:43 GMT

    Yes Australia played poorly in a warm up game so what! Watson still smashed a hundred before that against genuine quicks. Warner, Wade, Mitch Marsh are all talented and even though it may just be because I'm Aussie; I still back them to turn it around.Obviously though we need to hark right back to the days of Bob Simpson who drilled into his team the importance of running between the wickets to keep the scoreboard ticking which could of prevented those needless chop ons and rash shots against accurate bowling. Brett Lee leaves a big hole as the best performed one day bowler of all time and Starc doesnt fill half his shoes. Brett Lee would of finished the Job on Dhoni and Kartik with his legendary second spells. Realistically, Australia will need to conscript one of their test only bowlers such as Pattinson or Bird alonside starc for an all star bowling lineup if they want to have a shot at the world cup. I'd be happy if we just beat England this CT but we could do even better that!

  • Anupam on June 5, 2013, 14:26 GMT

    No one will miss Clarke. he bats in usually no.5 or 6 position in ODI which is the position of a finisher. With the SR of 78 what Aus expect from Clarke? His absence gives a little hope against POMS. But England starts CT with winning note. Clarke's absence boost Johnson & Watson's performance.

  • Terry on June 5, 2013, 11:46 GMT

    Clarke is head and shoulders Australia's best batsman so you would imagine he would be saved for the Ashes. This CT squad is very much an after thought with only Starc, Watson and Warner likely to play in the First Test. Siddle, Pattinson, Harris, Bird and Lyon have been sent to get red ball practice in the long form with Australia A against Scotland and Ireland along with any promising batsmen (Doolan Silk Maddinson). England will (if fit) field their Test bowling line up (Anderson Broad Finn Swann) on Saturday in the ODI. We shall see which is the right approach. Though given Englands alternatives are Dernbach and any passing Irish bowler they may have no other option.

  • Tom on June 5, 2013, 11:15 GMT

    @(commenter from Facebook at 10:47 GMT) - so, according to you Australia's problems are two-fold:

    1) The older players are retiring too soon, and 2) There is not enough chances for younger players

    Think you might want to check your logic.

  • Rajkumar on June 5, 2013, 11:07 GMT

    @Mitty2----You have earned a lot of respect with your lastest post.But i don't think all is gloom for Oz.It was just a practice match and probably they have made the right choices based on warm up results.You still have one of the best bolwing line ups and Aus contingent don't look too disheartened by that result which is very important.Assuming Watto opens and Clarke is back you have a balanced side with Wade batting down the order.Yes,regarding Warner i agree with you.he shouldn't have gone to England and any batsman who can roll his arms to send down 6-7 tidy overs should be included in his place with Hughes forming the other opener.

  • Dummy4 on June 5, 2013, 10:47 GMT

    i think the problem lies within the Aussie selection started when hayden or gilly or punter retired...i think they retire because they dont want to be dropped from the team as they always have this threat; the way selectors work...hussy,ponting,hayden,warne,mcgrath all could have been played 3 more years for their country from when actually they retired.....and also they dont give enough chance for young players...they get chance after 26 or 30....where as other countries take risk to play player aged 20 to 24 a lot....and there is always a lot of mis selection of players we see from aus....its pathetic...

  • gurinder on June 5, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    time we and aus fans move on. like we indians have moved on from sachin and sehwag. even 400 plus test wicket taken is axed in his prime. even man of series of wc2011 and only batsman to hit 6 sixes to a pacer(broad) is left home in mohali.clarke is done and dusted. and aus must accept their batting cupboards are bare . it will take few of such thrashings (all out 65) for most aus fans to accept this hard truth, good luck in ashes . dont lose 5-0

  • No featured comments at the moment.