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September 20, 2013
Australia's captain Michael Clarke is expected to be ruled out of the forthcoming limited-overs tour to India due to his chronic back troubles. Clarke was named subject to fitness in the 14-man squad to play seven ODIs after he complained of soreness and restricted movement during the closing stages of the long England tour.
However medical staff and the national selectors are conscious of ensuring Clarke is as fit as possible for the Ashes home series to follow, and ESPNcricinfo understands he is likely to be prescribed a period of rest following his exertions in England. This would be a similar outcome to that which followed the end of the India Test tour in March, when Clarke missed the final match of the series.
At the time, Clarke stated he would let the "experts" decide on his fitness for the IPL that followed soon after, and he was duly ruled out of his duties for Pune in the Twenty20 tournament. Clarke spoke in distinctly similar terms when assessing his chances of making the India ODI tour this time around.
"For me right now it's about getting on the phone to Alex Kountouris, the Australian physio, and communicating with him as I have been over the last couple of weeks since he's been back in Australia and we'll make a plan from there," Clarke said. "No doubt it's quite stiff and sore but I'll be guided by the experts on what I need to do now to try and get myself as fit as I can be."
Clarke played the final match of the England ODI series as he successfully sought a winning end to a difficult tour for him and his team. Darren Lehmann, the Australia coach, said that Clarke had insisted on playing at Southampton despite his discomfort, but would be placed in the hands of medical staff to judge his ability to make the India trip.
In Clarke's absence, George Bailey would then lead the team through the series in addition to the opening T20 fixture, while possible replacement batsmen include Callum Ferguson and Nic Maddinson. David Warner is not thought to be in contention for an immediate ODI recall.
Staying at home would allow Clarke the chance to recover fully from his present ailment while also offering extra time to prepare for the Ashes Tests at home, a series that he will be under significant pressure to win having gathered intelligence and confidence against England in the latter stages of the Tests in the northern hemisphere. He may also have the chance to take part in more Sheffield Shield matches prior to the first Test at the Gabba.
The back condition that has affected Clarke at numerous junctures across his career is not entirely linked to fatigue, as shown when it reared soon after his arrival in England earlier this year, ruling him out of the Champions Trophy. However regular rest over time may allow his career to go on further than it might if he maintains a diet of constant cricket.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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