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On a collision course with Cricket Australia over his fitness, injured skipper Michael Clarke has been reportedly ruled out of the opening Test against India, following his failure to recover well to play in the two-day tour game in Adelaide starting on Friday.
Cricket Australia had made it clear that Clarke will have to play the two-day tour match in Adelaide to prove his fitness for the first Test of the Border-Gavaskar series at Gabba, starting December 4.
However, Clarke, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, yesterday ruled himself out for the Adelaide game but said he is looking forward to play in a Sydney grade match on Saturday to prove his fitness.
Clarke’s contradictory public statements didn’t go down well with the selectors and Cricket Australia is likely to announce today that the Aussie skipper would not be playing either Adelaide tour match or the Sydney grade game.
According to News Corp Australia, Cricket Australia had released a statement after consulting the medical staff which appeared to have ruled Clarke out of the opening Test if he was unable to play in the India tour game in Adelaide.
“Should Michael play the tour match and recover well, the selectors have said he will take his place in the Test side.
“If he is not able to get up for the CA XI game, and given his history with this recurring injury, he will be ruled out of any cricket this week and the first Test and our focus will shift to getting him fit to play the second Test in Adelaide commencing on Friday, 12 December.”
Meanwhile, Fairfax Media has reported that CA chief executive James Sutherland will seek a ‘please explain’ from Clarke on why he contradicted the selectors yesterday.
“I will speak to Michael and others who have been involved in the process to make sure I understand where these things have gone awry,” Sutherland said.
“It’s not really appropriate for me to go into any more detail. All I can say is I am concerned that there are some mixed messages coming out of Cricket Australia in the last 24 hours or so and I want to understand why things have fallen off the rails a bit there.”
Clarke apparently discussed with team physio Alex Kountouris before ruling himself out of the Adelaide tour game yesterday.
“Ideally if I can tick all the boxes along the way and play on Saturday, get through that. Hopefully I can make myself available then it is completely up to the selectors to work out what to do,” Clarke said yesterday.
“My focus is listening to the experts as I’ve always done. Over the last 10, 12 years I’ve been playing for Australia I don’t think I’ve ever walked onto a field not being 100 per cent fit to perform. So I would hope with my experience that the selectors, my teammates, Cricket Australia staff respect my opinion there.”
Vice-captain Brad Haddin will become Australia’s 45th Test skipper if Clarke is finally ruled out, while the likes of Phil Hughes, Shaun Marsh, Callum Ferguson and Alex Doolan will compete to fill up his position in first Test.
Clarke was provisonally named in the 13-man squad announced yesterday for the first Test against India in Brisbane, subject to his complete recovery from a recurring left hamstring injury.