Friday, Oct 24, 2014

Post Ashes, Australia Test stars leave for South Africa

Australia's cricket captain Michael Clarke, left, signs a small cricket bat for unidentified fan during their arrival at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa (AP) Australia's cricket captain Michael Clarke, left, signs a small cricket bat for unidentified fan during their arrival at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa (AP)
Agencies | Sydney | Posted: January 30, 2014 2:52 am | Updated: January 30, 2014 11:01 am

Australia’s Test team left for its South African cricket tour Wednesday with captain Michael Clarke concerned over two players forced to remain behind to receive treatment on their injuries.

While fast bowler James Faulkner was ruled out of the tour on Tuesday with a right knee injury, Shaun Marsh (calf soreness) and Jackson Bird (back) will have to prove their fitness before making the trip. “I’d like them to be on this plane now but that’s not realistic,’’ Clarke said.

Both would likely need to leave Australia by the weekend if they want to take part in Australia’s one warm-up match from February 5-8 at Potchefstroom.

Bird bowled well in the nets on Tuesday and will be passed fit if he has another positive session. Marsh’s calf muscle strain is said to be minor, but medical staff are treating the injury with caution because he has had similar injuries before. Clarke said Australia needs to back that up against the world’s No. 1 Test team in South Africa. “A lot of teams in Test cricket are having success in their own back yard, but the greatest challenge is to be able to win away from home,’’ Clarke said. “That’s what we face right now.’’

Rixon dropped

Meanwhile, Australia continued to make changes to the team’s off-field structure by announcing the departure of assistant coach Steve Rixon from its backroom staff, the country’s cricket board said on Wednesday. “I’ve taken the opportunity to look at our current coaching structure and the levels of support I feel we need moving into the future,”  Lehmann said.

“I’ve mentioned previously that I believe our players can really benefit from more dedicated skill-based training,  which means more regular support from technical experts to help work on specific areas of performance. This will see various coaches and experts in their field working with the team as and when it is needed.”

The team recently announced that former spin great Shane Warne will work with Australia’s slow bowlers ahead of the Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh in March. “These changes to how we support our players means it is no longer necessary to have a full-time assistant coach travelling with the team,” Lehmann added.

“Steve has made an outstanding contribution to Australian cricket over a long period of time and played an important role with the national team since 2011. We’d like to thank him for his hard work and commitment over the years and wish him well in his future endeavours.”

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