Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland will grill Michael Clarke and national team selectors after a bizarre breakdown in communication over the injured captain’s availability for the first test against India next week.
Selectors on Monday named the injured skipper in a 12-man squad for the Brisbane test with the proviso that he play a two-day tour match against the tourists starting on Friday to prove his fitness.
Hours later, Clarke, battling to recover from a hamstring injury, said he had already been ruled out of that match by the team’s medical staff and said he intended to prove his fitness by playing for his Sydney club on Saturday.
The confusion grew late on Monday when Cricket Australia (CA) issued a statement siding with the selectors, and reiterating that Clarke needed to turn up for the Adelaide tour match.
CA chief executive Sutherland told Fairfax Media on Tuesday he would investigate the breakdown.
“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.
“I want to understand why things have fallen off the rails a bit there.”
The controversy follows a public spat between the captain and his coach Darren Lehmann, a member of the four-man selectors panel, over the omission of Steven Smith for a one-day match against Zimbabwe which Australia lost in August.
Clarke was publicly upbraided by Lehmann for criticising the selectors’ decision to overlook the middle order batsman. The Australian skipper was unrepentant.
News Ltd media reported that Clarke would be ruled out of the test match on Tuesday, but Cricket Australia declined to confirm his status.
Although Clarke has missed only one test through injury in his career of 107 matches, his determination to rush back from the hamstring problem has already cost him time on the sidelines while robbing the team of its top tactician.
Straining the hamstring directly before the Zimbabwe tour, Clarke promptly re-injured it when he resumed playing and was sidelined for the rest of the tournament along with the one-day series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in October.
Clarke aggravated the injury again in the opening ODI against South Africa earlier this month, forcing him to miss the rest of the series.
Although repeatedly urged to quit one-day cricket to prolong his career in tests — even with the World Cup on home soil looming in February — Clarke said he had no such plans.
“My goal is to continue to play for Australia for a lot longer. I love both forms of the game,” he told local broadcaster Channel Nine.