India v Australia, 3rd Test, Mohali, 4th day March 17, 2013

Back injury troubles Clarke again


Australia's miserable tour of India could become even worse with the captain Michael Clarke battling a back injury that may affect his batting on the final day in Mohali. Clarke has had ongoing problems with his back for many years and after hurting it during the warm-up on the fourth morning, he went on and off the field a number of times during India's batting, leaving Brad Haddin in charge during his absence.

Clarke was unable to take his new No. 3 position when Australia batted later in the afternoon and he also did not come out at No. 4 or No. 5, with Phillip Hughes, Steven Smith and the nightwatchman Nathan Lyon all sent in ahead of him. Given that he is Australia's leading run scorer during the series it was a major blow as they aimed to stave off defeat.

"Michael injured his back in the warm-up this morning," the team physio Alex Kountouris said. "He'll undergo further treatment overnight. We'll assess that and see how it settles in the morning."

Clarke's forced move back down the order allowed Hughes to shift back up to first drop and he made his innings count, reaching 53 not out at stumps, easily his best score of what has otherwise been a horror tour for him. The fast bowler Peter Siddle said he was confident Clarke would bat on the final day but he conceded the captain had been really struggling on Sunday.

"I think he'll definitely bat," Siddle said. "It was very sore throughout the day. Everyone knows he's had a bit of trouble with his back. He got some treatment after we came off the field and everything seems to be going along fine. Knowing Michael he'll do everything he can tonight with Alex and be ready to go tomorrow morning as soon as possible, no doubt. He'll want to get out there first-up. I think he'll be ready to go.

"You never want to see your mate in pain or hurting or going off the field and getting treatment, but the boys stuck at it well. Hadds took control out there when he was off the field and did a good job and the boys kept going about their business. I don't think anyone worries about it too much, but it was nice for Hughesy to get out there and dig in and batted superbly today." 

Clarke's back has caused him problems for many years but he has never missed a Test due to the pain. However, Australia have only three days off ahead of the fourth and final Test in Delhi, a short turnaround for Clarke and Australia's medical staff to ensure his fitness.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2013, 13:52 GMT

    @ Beertjie : I was referring more towards having experienced batsmen around his as opposed to helping him make decisions. I feel that all our batsmen bar Clarke and Cowan are ODI and T20 batters (Watson, Warner, Wade), Hughes doesn't have the faintest idea how to play spin. It makes no difference either you bowl spin or speak in Mandarin. He doesn't have a clue and should have been dropped after the 2nd Test. He didnt convince me much either against Sri Lanka. There would have been nothing wrong in sending an old head to fly off to India with Haddin. I'm not really worried about our bowlers because Patto, Bird, Starc, Cummins will take Oz to No 1 again after we find a couple batsmen that are capable of scoring a couple centuries per series. The future is bright with our seamers. I wouldn't worry much about not having any class spinner. The Windies didn't during their reign and neither do S.A now.

  • Mashuq on March 18, 2013, 11:37 GMT

    Agree @Stan Prokopiou on (March 17, 2013, 19:58 GMT) that Clarke needs sound heads around him, but will he listen to them? Chris Rogers and Punter couldn't get along. Does Clarke want his experience in English conditions around? Frankly, I doubt it. Well you can't have it both ways. Either you continue to give newbies opportunities and accept that you will lose, or you try and mix and match for given conditions and give old heads limited opportunities. Rogers could replace one of the 4 openers currently selected and be dropped if he doesn't succeed. But give him a fair go and he'll do his homework and contribute to the dressing-room. But there has to be different strokes for different folks. He's 15 years older than Pattinson, so treat him accordingly, not as someone with limited experience, even if he only played 1 test!

  • VENKATACHALAM on March 18, 2013, 6:39 GMT

    Take a break, Clarke for the Delhi Test. You deserve it though the rest of the team definitely doesn't. My XI For Delhi: Warner, Cowan, Watson(Captain), Khwaja, Smith, Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Pattinson, Siddle, Starc, Lyon. Try out Khwaja before the Ashes begins.

  • Brenton on March 18, 2013, 5:38 GMT

    Give Clarke a rest for the 4th test. No point risking it. Watson in for Clarke at 4, Khawaja and Pattinson in for either Henriques, Doherty or Smith. Hughes remains at 3, he's an opener and has to stay near the top. This is a glimpse of what he's capable of, that LBW was a shocker.

  • Tom on March 18, 2013, 4:24 GMT

    @BhuJo, wow!!! That could be the most ridiculous stuff I've ever read!!!

  • Dummy4 on March 18, 2013, 2:30 GMT

    Its funny how Clarke always gets injured when things don't go his way.

  • JIGNESH on March 18, 2013, 2:13 GMT

    @BhuJo, First Watson should get his form back in the tests because only from-less cricketer becomes a captain in only India.

  • Cameron on March 18, 2013, 1:51 GMT

    @BhuJo: please do not comment on things you clearly have little idea about. Without doubt, Michael Clarke is one of Australia's most tactically sound, astute & attacking captains of recent history. He is prepared to try things on the field, roll the dice when necessary & leads by example with the bat. End of story. To suggest otherwise is absolute nonsense.

  • Martin on March 18, 2013, 1:23 GMT

    not surprising he has a bad back when hes been carrying the rest of the team for the majority of the last year

  • Dummy4 on March 18, 2013, 0:15 GMT

    Clarke's there to bat not be injured! Harsh,No,he came into this test and all tests with a dodgy back! If he is not physically capable then find someone who is! Thats the bottom line because it isn't going to get any easier from here on in!

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