Michael Clarke to miss UAE ODIs
Australia captain Michael Clarke has been ruled out of the ODI series against Pakistan in the UAE and is in doubt for the Tests that follow. Clarke flew home from the recent tri-series in Zimbabwe due to a left-hamstring injury and Australia's physiotherapist, Alex Kountouris, confirmed on Tuesday that the problem was "significant" and tendon damage had been discovered.
If Clarke were to miss the two-Test series it would be a major blow for Australia, given his proficiency in spinning conditions and the struggles the rest of Australia's batsmen have displayed on the same surfaces. Kountouris said a decision on Clarke would not be made until closer to the first Test, which begins in Dubai on October 22, after a four-day warm-up game in Sharjah.
"Since returning to Australia, Michael has had a series of investigations that have confirmed a significant hamstring injury," Kountouris said. "Importantly, the scans have demonstrated tendon damage, which complicates the recovery from this injury.
"As such, he will not recover in time to be available for the ODI series in the UAE. We are hopeful that he will be available for the Test series, but this will be determined at a date closer to the first Test."
Clarke succumbed to the injury at Australia's first training session in Harare for the one-day series against Zimbabwe and South Africa, and he sat out of the first two matches. However, he came back for the third game and aggravated the injury while batting, forcing him to retire hurt on 68, although he resumed his innings in the final over after Australia struggled against spin.
He also returned to the field late in Zimbabwe's successful chase as he sought to prevent an embarrassing defeat, even bowling an over himself. It is unclear whether the injury was worsened by his decision to continue playing an active role in the match, but he was sent home to begin his recovery soon after that game.
Australia's series against Pakistan begins with a Twenty20 international on October 5 in Dubai, followed by three ODIs in Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. George Bailey is expected to captain the one-day side in Clarke's absence, while Phillip Hughes has been named by the selectors as the replacement batsman for Clarke in the ODIs.
Brad Haddin would be the most likely candidate to lead the Test side if Clarke was also ruled out of the two Tests in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Clarke has only once missed a Test through injury, when his back forced him to sit out of the fourth Test against India in Delhi last year, when Shane Watson stepped in as captain.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale