Michael Clarke is prepared to cut down on his bowling if it helps him survive the back condition that is threatening his career. As well as forging a reputation as a dashing middle-order bastman, Clarke has also shown himself to be a handy left-arm spinner, taking six wickets against India in Mumbai last year.
But after spending most of the third Ashes Test at Old Trafford receiving treatment for the problem, Clarke, who stayed in Manchester while the team left for Scotland and will miss the one-day game tomorrow, said he was contemplating having to cope with the condition for a long time. "I hope not, but the reality is if it keeps happening, it's not going to be great for me," he said. "It's important we work out why it's happening, what I am doing for it to occur. If it means stopping doing something or not doing something as much, that's what I need to do."
Clarke left the field in the second over of the first day at Old Trafford and was later said by Errol Alcott, the Australia physio, to be suffering from lower disc irritation. "I just felt something go in my back," Clarke said. "I wasn't sure, Ricky [Ponting] came and grabbed me straight away and said, 'has it gone?' I said, 'just give me one more ball to see what's happened'. Next ball I sort of bent forward, I could just feel it. It was a very similar problem to what happened in the one-dayers."
Leaving the field straight away, Clarke told Alcott and started receiving treatment. "Unfortunately I don't think there is a cure," he said. "I did a fair bit of fielding two days before and the first day of the game and I did a lot of bowling. I thought I would have been needed out there on that wicket to bowl. Hopefully we will find out what the problem is."
Clarke was rushed from the team's Manchester hotel to Old Trafford to bat as Australia's top order collapsed in the first innings and was clearly restricted in making 7. However, he looked more comfortable during his 39 on Monday before he was bowled by Simon Jones. "I found it hard to move in the first innings," he said. "I couldn't run."
After being in the dressing room when Australia lost the second Test at Edgbaston by two runs, Clarke said his nerves were struggling to cope with the strain as Australia held on for a draw. "I am sick of being in there watching," he said. "I was too nervous. The last two overs I couldn't watch, I was in the physio's room. In my short career I have had enough of those games."