Doubt over Michael Clarke’s status for the first Test against India intensified after he was selected to lead Australia, subject to fitness, and then ruled out of another warm-up match. Australia selectors announced the 12-man squad for the December 4-8 series opener, including Clarke despite the 33-year-old batsman missing most of the just-completed limited-overs series against South Africa after injuring his left hamstring for the third time since August.
Clarke was added to a Cricket Australia XI for a two-day tour match against India in Adelaide starting on Friday to test his injury, and chief selector Rod Marsh said if the Australia captain couldn’t run by Wednesday “We can safely assume he won’t be playing the Test.”
At a sponsorship function later Monday, Clarke told reporters the Australian team medical staff had already ruled him out of the two-day tour match. “The next game that I am available for, if I can be fit, is (Sydney) grade cricket on Saturday,” Clarke was quoted as saying. “Hopefully I can make myself available, then it is completely up to the selectors to work out what to do.”
Vice-captain and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin was selected for the first Test, despite missing the 4-1 ODI series win over South Africa with a shoulder injury; veteran fast bowler Ryan Harris was recalled after just one first-class match since returning from knee surgery; and Steve Smith strained his right quadriceps playing against South Africa and withdrew from a Sheffield Shield match this week for New South Wales.
Cricket Australia chief medical officer John Orchard said Smith would be treated in Sydney and was likely to be fit for the first Test. Australian selectors have been concerned about Clarke’s fitness due to history of back and hamstring problems.