Australia captain Michael Clarke will miss rest of the one-day international series against South Africa with a hamstring injury, the country’s cricket board (CA) said on Saturday.
Clarke re-injured his problematic left hamstring on Friday in Australia’s 23-run win over the Proteas in the first match in Perth and had scans on Saturday.
“Michael had scans today (Saturday) in Perth for his ongoing left hamstring problem and as a result has been ruled out of the remaining matches in the… ODI Series,” CA team doctor Peter Brukner said in a statement.
“Michael will return to Sydney for further treatment and an update on his fitness for the first Test in Brisbane will be made in due course.”
Perth also hosts the second game on Sunday with George Bailey confirmed to lead the home side, a role he is set to continue to play in the five-match series.
Clarke’s injury sidelined him for the entire one-day series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates and almost all of a preceding one-day tournament against South Africa and hosts Zimbabwe.
The recurrence of the injury has stoked fears Australia could head into a four-Test series against India without their top batsman and master tactician, while another breakdown could be the end of his World Cup ambitions.
The first Test against India will start on Dec. 4.
Australia coach Darren Lehmann confirmed Clarke would be replaced by middle order batsman Steven Smith.
Bailey led the team after Clarke was ruled out midway through the match after being caught behind for 11.
Lehmann said Australia could win the World Cup with or without Clarke.
“It’s never easy when you’re losing one of your best players, but that’s part and parcel of sport these days,” Lehmann told reporters in Perth on Saturday.
“Players have got to be adaptable.
“We’d love him there. But you can (still) win every game you play (without him).
“With the 11 that go on the field, we have full faith in winning each and every game.”
With ever injury breakdown, Australian media have called on Clarke to step down as ODI captain to prolong his career in Tests, considered by far the most important format in Australia.
Pundits repeated the calls in newspapers on Saturday.
Lehmann said it would be Clarke’s call as to whether he continued in the role.
Johnson likely to get breather after second ODI
Australia paceman Mitchell Johnson may be rested after the second one-day international against South Africa to keep him fresh for the Test series against India and next year’s World Cup, the left-arm speedster said on Saturday.
“It’s looking that way at the moment,” Johnson told local radio station Triple M when asked if he might stay in his home-town Perth with family after Sunday’s second ODI at the WACA.
“The thing that I guess I’ve learned over time, I’m 33 now and played a lot of one-day games for my country, which has been a great honour, and Test matches as well.
“With what we’ve got coming up … it’s a lot of cricket. So for me to be at my best and bowling fast, I need to be as fresh as possible.”
“It’s hard, I want to play every game I can for my country, but at the same time I want to be playing at my best so whatever the selectors and CA (Cricket Australia) want me to do, I’ll go by them.”