Aus v Ind, Champions Trophy warm-up, Cardiff

Clarke's back causes Australia concern

Nagraj Gollapudi in Cardiff

June 4, 2013

Comments: 50 | Text size: A | A

Michael Clarke gives his first press conference after arriving for the Champions Trophy, Cardiff, May 29, 2013
Michael Clarke's back is again causing him problems © Getty Images

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

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Posted by TeamRocker on (June 7, 2013, 3:32 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.

Posted by AKS286 on (June 6, 2013, 9:23 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.

Posted by Meety on (June 6, 2013, 7:30 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!!!!!!

Posted by   on (June 5, 2013, 15:43 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!

Posted by AKS286 on (June 5, 2013, 15:26 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.

Posted by Behind_the_bowlers_arm on (June 5, 2013, 12:46 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.

Posted by wibblewibble on (June 5, 2013, 12:15 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.

Posted by latecut_04 on (June 5, 2013, 12:07 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.

Posted by   on (June 5, 2013, 11:47 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...

Posted by gsingh7 on (June 5, 2013, 11:35 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

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (June 5, 2013, 11:33 GMT)

Bad back, bad leader, Australia won't miss him one bit. The Ashes excuses began long ago for Aus, Clarke's absence the latest one. With Bailey being the worst captain Australia have ever fielded (another middle-order captain unwilling to take responsibility for the chaos that reigns above in the top order), England have the perfect opportunity to flesh new talent in a match against this poor excuse for a cricket team.

Posted by   on (June 5, 2013, 11:16 GMT)

Clarke has had a great fitness record but he is at that age when chronic injuries start to play up more and tend to accumulate. My guess as to what will happen going forward is that he will use conservative treatment and manipulation until his back starts forcing him to skip more and more games then will probably examine the surgical options to see how that can improve his quality of life. I would be extremely surprised if he hasn't been talking to spinal surgeons already. He's 32 with roughly 5 more playing years ahead of him so he needs to weigh the benefits and costs of a major treatment when the time comes.

Posted by   on (June 5, 2013, 11:07 GMT)

Australia are going to loose ASHES 4-0 to England there batting looks below par without hussey.They were trashed by india in test matches and as far CT is concern they not even qualify for the semis. bundled out for 65 against india not even tryed to fight.Australia ur good days are gone. Need to think a lot.

Posted by TenDonebyaShooter on (June 5, 2013, 10:49 GMT)

Clarke's long-standing back problems are reminiscent of those of another captain in England-Australia encounters on whom his team heavily relied 15-20 years ago. The difference may be this: I wonder if the England bowlers will be as canny in exposing any linked holes in Clarke's mobility as McGrath, Gillespie, etc were in exposing how back problems made batting difficult for Atherton?

Posted by deep6321 on (June 5, 2013, 9:27 GMT)

I do not understand why people keeps talking ASHES in between in other series. Most pf the time i see people saying to save a particular player for ASHES .But I think its better to concentrate on present series rather than future series.If clarke is fit he should play in CT.and BTW this years ASHES is just going to suck . Because i do not see any batsman in Australian squad. I also dont understand why people talk so much about Watson, when we we all know that he is of no use in TESTS. I have not seen any good performance from him in a single test. I think the Australian selectors i taking in to account his ODI stats.He truly is very good ODI player.But its time for Australia to replace him in TESTS. And Where is Pattrick Cummins the brightest of all current australian fast bowlers.....????

Posted by Mitty2 on (June 5, 2013, 9:14 GMT)

Well, my first comment is a bit embarrassing now isn't it? "Our batting line up for the CT and ODI's, is, on paper, probably one of the best in world cricket and many think that we're good chances, (as do I), and to be honest, we can more than handle without Clarke." ... That said just prior to being bundled out by mediocre seamers on a flat deck with no evident seam movement and no swing... And I had the audacity to criticise England's top 3 because of slow run rates and such... When three of our top 7 got out to chop ons and 1 out to slashing at a half volley on his back foot (you guessed it, Warner...), although England have no hope in hell for the Champions trophy with a top 3 who prefer to ignore team requirements and focus on getting easy 100's in which doesn't benefit the team (it would if KP was there), at least Eng doesn't have an embarrassing contingent of batsmen who couldn't hold a bat to save themselves.

And to think I was on optimistic Australian fan.

Posted by vj_gooner on (June 5, 2013, 7:25 GMT)

Dear CA,

Could you please give me a solid reason as why the Bailey & Wade are there in the team? We (fans) what Bailey has been doing this season for the Hants. If he can't do nuts for Hants in the two months he has been here, what makes you think that he will perform for CA?

To make it truly horrendously worse, you have made him the captain. You guys are doing things that are more mythical than the city of Atlantis.


Suffering Oz Fan!

Posted by linsonmathew90 on (June 5, 2013, 5:37 GMT)

Time to move on buddy....

Posted by   on (June 5, 2013, 4:54 GMT)

One man does not make the Cricket team. Unless the likes of Warner, Wade, Hughes and in particular Watson can become somewhere near competent batsmen, Australia is doomed.

Posted by landl47 on (June 5, 2013, 4:11 GMT)

The problem with lower back issues is that there is very little that can be done about them. Heat and rest are the only cures and a cricket tour in England is not likely to provide either.

Hopefully Clarke will recover in time for the Ashes. It's a pity about the CT, in which I thought Aus had a reasonable chance with Clarke in the line-up (as much for his captaincy as his batting), but he obviously shouldn't try to play in a fairly insignificant ODI tournament if it will affect his ability to play test cricket.

Posted by   on (June 5, 2013, 0:09 GMT)

For God's sake when will Cricket Australia authorities wake up and follow the advice of Geoff Lawson and have the cricketers regularly checked by a chiropractor. A review of all the worldwide studies show that chiropractic care is the most effective treatment for back conditions (more effective than physiotherapy and medical care)

Posted by Dangertroy on (June 4, 2013, 23:45 GMT)

I've been thinking for some time that Clarke could retire if he manages to lead Australia to back to back ashes wins. His back problems are becoming more frequent and more severe, he is starting to miss quite a bit of cricket. Since becoming captain he's missed 14 out of 46 odi's, almost one third of matches. Clarke. Has said he doesn't intend to be captain when he's 35, but I hope he gets to chose his time rather than having to prematurely retire due to his back.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 22:38 GMT)

he is a great champ. aussi will miss him in this great event CT 2013

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 19:30 GMT)

I hope he is fit for the Ashes . Because thats were the australians and englishmen are focusing at the moment . and understandably so . CT is`nt their focus , i wish India was in group A instead of Srilanka so that they could have sneak through into the semis . anyways Good Luck to australia for the Ashes .

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 19:08 GMT)

dont mind one bit if Clarke doesn't play, I think the whole reason Australia plays so inconsistently and shoddily these days is because of a complete lack of confidence in him as a man - not a player. And even then he is not exactly a match-winner at ODI level, he plays at his own pace, and often gets out just when the team needs him most.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 18:41 GMT)

I think these warm matches nothing more than practice. Even someone make 100s does not count because it is unofficial. India beat Aussies, and Pak beat SA is nothing more than daydreaming of winning champions trophy. I reckon, Aussies and SA are favorite because Aussies are defending and SA has the best lineup unless SA chokes again. Good Luck to everyone

Posted by DPENRAW on (June 4, 2013, 18:14 GMT)

he is a big match player..aus needs him in the CT final and ASHES..

Posted by GeoffreysMother on (June 4, 2013, 18:09 GMT)

Lyndon De Paul - what was that, earlier in the week, about Australia's batting being able to score runs against mediocre seamers. Want to revise that now? On the positive side - Hughes got into double figures. On the negative side, two rising balls from a tall seamer (you choose from Finn, Broad, Tremlett, Rankin, Roland Jones) and Clarke's back has gone for 12 months.

Still warm up matches mean nothing eh? - Unless your team spirit and confidence is already rock bottom.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 17:31 GMT)

@Lyndon - were you saying something?

Posted by SirViv1973 on (June 4, 2013, 17:07 GMT)

I think Aus batting performnce today demonstrates just how much they need him in both ODI & test cricket!

Posted by Jadejafan on (June 4, 2013, 17:01 GMT)

I swear England-Australia played an ODI match last year.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 16:50 GMT)

Get well soon Pup.. Qz need your experience in middle order..!!

Posted by Big_Maxy_Walker on (June 4, 2013, 16:15 GMT)

plenty of time to stay in and finish your homework michael

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (June 4, 2013, 16:12 GMT)

Looks like the start of a long summer of excuses from Oz. Clarke's back has always needed careful management, it's just a shame he doesn't manage his team like he does his back. You can't set homework for back-pain.

Posted by realfan on (June 4, 2013, 16:08 GMT)

its better to rest clarke for the would be boring without clarke....wishes for you clarke from india... get well soon and get the ashes back....

Posted by gsingh7 on (June 4, 2013, 16:04 GMT)

best fast bowling unit is bhuvi - umesh . aus now 5/32 in 11 overs. umesh got 5 in 5 overs. steyn morkel were flogged by mediocre pak batsmen. everyone knows english bowling averages are highest in odis. sl bowling unit of kula- eranga were thrashedby indians and west indians .the less said about johnson starc economy(73 today for starc). now aus are 34-6 and clarke have back issues. back ur bags aussies.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 15:59 GMT)

@sanchit...allright brag away sanchit! Great spell by Umesh. India maybe the team to beat in the CT.

Posted by gsingh7 on (June 4, 2013, 15:51 GMT)

take out kp and clarke and u have ashes that is below level of zimb and bangladesh test series

Posted by gsingh7 on (June 4, 2013, 15:48 GMT)

it willbe contest of most expensive and thrashable bowling unit(eng) vs most overhyped and talentless batting unit(aus). as i speak aus are 9/3 with warner another duck. we all have already seen english bowlers belted by 8th placed nz in 2 odis. it will be clash of minnows.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 15:14 GMT)

@Sanchit It was a great innings by Kartik and Dhomi but too early to brag yet Sanchit!

Posted by Harlequin. on (June 4, 2013, 15:04 GMT)

Hopefully Australia will do the sensible thing and rest Clarke for the ashes, as much as I dislike the guy, he is probably the only world-class batsman in the Aussie line-up and it would be a massive loss to the series if he weren't there.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 14:54 GMT)

wen msd walks commentator says should be eyeing 220 or 230 heroics from kartik and msd taught dem a lesson never underestimate sm1

Posted by Hammond on (June 4, 2013, 14:40 GMT)

Australia will be fine. Don't be concerned about warm up games, Australia have the talent (at least in odi's) to shake the best odi teams in the world to their bootstraps.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 14:20 GMT)

@tallhawk...Not worried about clarke's availability in the short term. He's tough and has battled these issues his whole career. With a month to get himself sorted he'll be there for the opener. What it does mean though is that Australia will have to start in the Ashes like a shot out of a gun and win the first 2 to make the most of his batting whilst he is still fit!

Posted by jmcilhinney on (June 4, 2013, 14:07 GMT)

You do have to wonder how much longer Clarke will last. I can't help thinking that he'll retire relatively soon, not because he will not be capable of playing on further but because doing so will lead to greater problems down the track. Anyone with back issues at his age is pretty much certain to suffer moreso through later years so he'll have to decide exactly how much he wants to risk aggravating it. It will be a great loss for Australia and world cricket.

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (June 4, 2013, 13:54 GMT)

Can anyone tell me why this game is being played on a pitch with NOT ONE BLADE OF GRASS on it? It is rolled mud, quite literally. There is something very, very strange going on here. This is England, land of constant rain and green fields. Why have administrators decided to remove all the grass from the wickets? I smell a very dirty rat here.

Posted by TallHawk on (June 4, 2013, 13:52 GMT)

If two of Pietersen, Swann and Anderson are injured (and they've all had their problems recently) then there is not much to choose between England and Oz over these ten Tests. Just look at the difference McGrath injuring himself made on the 05 series. However, if England are at full strength and Clarke is injured (he's clearly struggling) then I fear that the Aussies could be embarrassed - we may even see a procession to victory by England...

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 13:47 GMT)

I have the ominous feeling that this is Clarke's last Ashes series(including Aussie Leg). These back issues are becoming more and more frequent and even a guy as tough as Clarke is can only take so much!

Posted by Mitty2 on (June 4, 2013, 13:27 GMT)

Rest him.. I know it's the stereotypical Australian and English view - of 'prioritizing' the ashes - but quite simply this trophy means absolutely nothing in comparison to the Ashes. Unlike in test cricket, we have batting depth and batting continuity in ODI's, and clarke's recent form in ODI's is actually quite mediocre, so we can afford to rest him. Not to mention that bailey is a very good captain and can lead the team adeptly. Our batting line up for the CT and ODI's, is, on paper, probably one of the best in world cricket and many think that we're good chances, (as do I), and to be honest, we can more than handle without Clarke. Save him for the ashes. If he can score two doubles against steyn, philander and morkel in three tests....

Posted by itismenithin on (June 4, 2013, 13:10 GMT)

Unless both Clarke & KP plays i have a feeling this ashes might be a boring affair with both teams looking average

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