Australia in South Africa 2005-06 February 23, 2006

Clarke swaps caps after skin cancer diagnosis

Cricinfo staff

Michael Clarke plans to take more care when he's having fun in the sun © Getty Images

A skin cancer scare will force Michael Clarke to ditch his baggy green cap for a wide-brimmed hat if he regains his Test place. Clarke, who was dropped from the Test side during the West Indies series in November, was diagnosed with a low-grade spot on his nose at a screening after a New South Wales training session.

"It was certainly a bit of a shock when they told me what it was," Clarke said in the Sydney Morning Herald. "After I got it checked they got back to me two weeks later with the photos and sent me some information and told me to see my doctor. I saw a doctor in Perth when I was back with the one-day squad; he took a sample of it and sent that away. He said it was some form of very low-grade skin cancer and he organised me to see a dermatologist."

Clarke told the paper he now covered up more of his body when he played and he wore a long-sleeve lycra suit under his one-day outfit during the VB Series. A wide-brimmed hat will also become an essential item during extended fielding stints. "It has reminded me how dangerous the sun is, and we're obviously out in it a lot," he said. "I will be double-checking the suncream and zinc.

"It's a bit of a wake-up call, because I've got the kind of skin that is susceptible to this. I was trying to get it treated before I came here to South Africa but I ran out of time. I'm told it won't make any difference if I get it done after I get back from Bangladesh. It should take two laser treatments to get rid of the cells."

Clarke's first-class chances have been limited due to his ODI duties, but he has spoken to Trevor Hohns, the chairman of selectors, about whether it will upset his plans for a Test return. "He said it doesn't matter what form of the game you play, just score runs," Clarke said. "I've had a lot of support from the selectors and they've been very positive. They know it's something I can't help."

Clarke is hopeful he will win a spot in the Test squad for the South Africa series, which begins at Cape Town on March 16, as the reserve batsman. "The major goal for me is to continue scoring runs in the one-day game," he said. "I feel like I'm batting and bowling pretty well in the one-dayers."