India v Australia, 4th Test, Delhi, 1st day March 22, 2013

Australia miss Clarke's spin skills

Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin will both fly home from Delhi on Saturday morning while their team-mates attempt to fight their way back into the fourth Test. Clarke will have scans on his back in Sydney after being ruled out of the Test before play on the first morning at the Feroz Shah Kotla, while Haddin has been released from the squad after arriving in India halfway through the tour as cover for the injured Matthew Wade, who missed the Mohali Test but was fit for Delhi.

Australia's medical staff wants to monitor Clarke's back problem, which has troubled him since he was 17, and his participation for Pune Warriors in the IPL must be in doubt given Australia's busy winter schedule with the Champions Trophy and an Ashes tour. Clarke's absence allowed Shane Watson to become Australia's 44th Test captain and while Clarke was not seen on the team balcony during the day, the batsman Steven Smith said he was still active around the group.

"He was given until the last point to prove his fitness," Smith said. "Shane was given a little heads-up to say 'prepare mentally and get yourself ready, just in case I don't come up'. He in the end was in a bit too much pain to get into this match and there's a lot of big series coming up and he wants to get his body right and prepare well for them. They told us this morning.

"He [Clarke] was grabbing a few guys' gloves and giving them to the boys to run out. He was trying to do his part in the sheds like he always does. It's disappointing not to have him out there in this game."

Australia certainly missed Clarke's batting in the first innings as their top order collapsed to 129 for 6 in challenging but far from unplayable conditions. Smith was one of only two Australians to survive for 100 deliveries - the other was the No. 9 Peter Siddle - and he said the pitch was likely to be much harder to bat on as the match wore on.

"That's probably not the day-one wicket that I'm used to playing on," Smith said. "It's broken up a fair bit to start up with. It's going to get tougher and tougher to bat throughout this match and 231 at the end of the day is not a bad day I don't think. Hopefully we can grind out another 50 or so tomorrow and I think that will be quite competitive as a first-innings score on that wicket."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ross on March 23, 2013, 8:33 GMT

    We missed Clarke but no doubt not picking Khawjaa was the biggest mistake of the day. And interesting to see Warney is at the game in the commentary box, he'd be handy out there be doin more than Maxwell or steve smith, or the other quickies. But alas Warney cares more about impressing Liz Hurley these days, can't blame him.

  • Sen on March 23, 2013, 5:55 GMT

    How big a fan of Clarke's are you?

  • Philip on March 23, 2013, 1:21 GMT

    You only need to say two words. Those are "four" and "nil". All tours of India are tough but when has that ever happened before? Under the captaincy of Taylor and Waugh, Australia played seven matches in India for, I think, five losses. But they did win the other two. This team couldn't win two matches out of seven. Their best hope seems to be a draw. In the the Tied Test series under Border, there were two draws out of three, with the other being, of course, the famous Tie. I've said before that Australian team of '86 was a side on the up and way, way better than this current one. Only Clarke could've been assured of a place in that team and that was a time when Mark Waugh was sitting on the sidelines and getting the nickname of "Afghanistan - the forgotten Waugh".

  • Andrew on March 23, 2013, 0:57 GMT

    Not worth commenting on what is going to happen until India start to bat. Have a feeling this is MJs type of pitch!

  • Alex on March 22, 2013, 17:31 GMT

    '8/231 is not a bad day'. It may not seem like a bad day right now, but the same things were being said when we finished on 240 on day 1 of the 2nd test and look what happened there. Yes our bowling attack looks better here but i would not be surprised to see India make it look flat and pile on the runs. We only lost 2 wickets in the first sesson and 1 wicket in the last session, if Peter Siddle can bat through a session then the wicket is not that bad, just poor batting in the middle session has cost us again.

  • Jay on March 22, 2013, 17:07 GMT

    @cric_options: Looks like you have been watching a different game. Australia have only managed to ensure they don't look silly with a score below 200 on the first day. They are far from saving this test. In fact, India looking good to bat for 2 days and put up a huge score. A certain defeat is the only likely scenario for the Aussies unless they make a huge 2nd innings score and ache out a draw. The Aussies have blown another chance to bat first and put up a decent total. 4-0 is looking more likely.

  • Dummy4 on March 22, 2013, 15:46 GMT

    India would still win this match as they are quite used up to this conditions and exploit them well

  • Som on March 22, 2013, 15:10 GMT

    Smith and Siddle ensured Australia cannot lose this one. Good job guys !

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