Stuart Clark is ready to provide Australia's stuttering bowling line-up with another option as he sets his sights on returning from a bruised rib in Friday's second one-day match at Cape Town. The problem was at its worst after last week's Twenty20 loss at Centurion, but Clark was confident he could solve one dilemma in an Australian camp already struggling with the absence of Ricky Ponting [stomach] and Andrew Symonds [hip].
Clark's comments came as Jason Gillespie pushed his South Australia team-mate Shaun Tait for a place in the Test squad for the three-match series. Glenn McGrath's withdrawal to be with his family has created a huge hole and the list of candidates is building after the one-day team's early-tour troubles. The bowlers were conquered by Graeme Smith's unbeaten 119 on Sunday - Mitchell Johnson and Mick Lewis delivered only three overs each - and Clark could play a containing role if passed fit.
"I had some bruising on one of my lower ribs and it's coming along pretty well," Clark told AAP. "I won't bowl until Thursday and hopefully everything will be fine then."
Clark, who received an injection into his chest after the Twenty20 match, said the players were not feeling under pressure after their opening ODI defeat. "It's disappointing to lose," he said, "but we know we're a good team. We proved that in Australia. And we want to come out and show the South African public we can do the same."
He has also encouraged Smith to target him over the rest of the series. "Look, if he wants to have a go at me that's his problem," he said. "It's not going to bother me. If he's trying to hit me out of the park it's probably giving me more chance of getting him out. Hopefully I can do a Glenn McGrath-like job."
The Test squad is named next week and the tour members will be looking to stay ahead of the state players performing in the Pura Cup from Thursday. Tait impressed with six wickets in the ING Cup final loss to New South Wales and Gillespie said his team-mate should be considered despite not being able to throw after shoulder surgery.
"They say Shaun's similar to Brett but, at the end of the day, they're wicket-takers," Gillespie said in the Sydney Morning Herald. "I'd love to go, don't get me wrong, but with Shaun there's a bloke who bowls 150kmh while swinging the ball, and gets audacious reverse-swing. Shaun bowled some of the fastest deliveries I've seen last Sunday."
Gillespie said he had not thought about being picked for the tour, which would mark his return to the international scene after his poor Ashes campaign. "I'm happy with my form and I've still got that desire to play for Australia," he said, "but if it doesn't happen I'm not going to slit my wrists." Queensland's Michael Kasprowicz is another contender and he will play in Melbourne against Victoria from Thursday while Gillespie and Tait have a chance to exploit the WACA pitch in their match on Friday.
Tait told the paper he was "not really confident" of a recall because of his throwing limitations. "Trevor Hohns [the chairman of selectors] has said in the media if I can't throw and dive I can't get picked," Tait said. "But bowlers get picked to bowl, so I hope selectors can see past that. I've spoken with Trevor and he says they're well impressed with the pace I've got at this stage."