Champions Trophy 2013 June 14, 2013

Clarke hopeful of Sri Lanka return

Michael Clarke is not certain whether he will be fit to face Sri Lanka in Australia's vital last Champions Trophy group match on Monday but has declared that he "will definitely be back for the Ashes".

Even before David Warner decided to take swing at Joe Root last week, Clarke had enough on his mind as he tried to overcome a recurrence of his back problem which had ruled him out of Australia's first two matches.

Australia's tournament hopes rest on Monday's meeting with Sri Lanka at The Oval but it remains uncertain whether their captain will be able to return to the side. Clarke was not with the squad during the first two games - a defeat to England and an abandonment against New Zealand - and his linking back up with the team as they arrived in London was dominated by him dealing with the fall-out to Warner's night out.

However, there was time to ask Clarke about the state of his back and though he tried to make positive noises he was not giving any promises.

"It is getting there," he said. "I can sit here and say I will be 100% fit for the game on Monday. But I have been saying that for the last two games as well.

"It is about judging my back every day. It is slowly getting better, there is no doubt about it, but I am as keen as ever to try to get on the field and help this team have some success."

George Bailey has led the side in Clarke's absence and has struck two half-centuries, but the top order has been unconvincing. Before Warner's enforced absence, his form had been poor and Shane Watson is also struggling for runs. Phil Hughes battled his way to an unconvincing 30 against England and was run out for a duck against New Zealand.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo