Recovering from a hamstring problem, Michael Clarke remains a doubtful starter for the second warm-up game but the Australian skipper is confident that he will be fit for the opening Test against India beginning in Chennai on February 22.
Never to have missed a Test through injury in his 89-Test career, Clarke said he has enough time to recover from the injury and wants to play in the three-day warm-up match but will go by what his physio Alex Kountouris decides.
“I m feeling much better. I’ve had four days now of recovery, rehab and a lot of physio. I’m certainly on the mend and I’ve got some time when I arrive in India to get myself 100 per cent fit as well,” Clarke told reporters here before leaving for India.
“Like all the boys, the more preparation we can get in Indian conditions the better. I’d really like to play that three-dayer but again, I’ll be advised by Alex (Kountouris) the physio once I land in India but at this stage my plan is to play that three-dayer.
“Look, there is so much time I don’t think there is any doubt I’ll be fit for the first Test. I’ll need to communicate with Alex to see what is the best preparation leading up to that Test,” he added.
Clarke, who missed the final ODI against the West Indies last Sunday due to a recurring hamstring strain, said he wants to spend some time to acclimatise with the Indian conditions.
“In my mind cricket-wise I feel like I need that game to spend some time in Indian conditions both batting and bowling, but also with my captaincy as well because India is such a different place to Australia.
“But I’ll listen to the expert and see what he has to say.”
England notched up its first Test series victory in India in 28 years last year with the help of two spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar but Clarke was unsure whether Australia would follow the same tactics.
“We’re playing in different parts of India to England. We need to wait and see what the wickets are like before we make that decision,” Clarke said.
But I’m more than happy to bowl as much as I need to bowl. We are lucky we have some good choices both pacers and spinners. I enjoy bowling in India but we will wait and see what happens,” he said.
Clarke is also yet to figure out his revamped Australian batting line-up for the opening Test, following the retirement of Mike Hussey and vice-captain Shane Watson’s new role as a specialised batsman.
“It’s very open, hence we’ve sent (17) players in three different stages to get over there as soon as possible to prepare and get used to conditions,” he said.
“Runs and wickets will certainly play a big part in these practice games leading up to the first Test but for a lot of guys it’s more about preparation and seeing conditions.”
Returning from injury, Watson opened the innings for Australia and ended as the leading run-getter in the West Indies series with 198 runs from three games at an average of 66 and he has expressed his desire to continue at the top.
But for the six summer Tests against South Africa and Sri Lanka, Australia has being served by the opening duo of David Warner and Ed Cowan and Clarke was supportive of them.
“Ed, like Davey Warner, had a really good summer and put their hand up against the No.1 Test team in the world (South Africa), so I think it’s a really positive sign that we’ve got so many options in our squad,” Clarke said.
“Obviously, Shane needs to come back into the line-up.
It’s a lot different now that Watto is not bowling. As an all-rounder, I think he walks into any team.
“As a batsman, there is a much bigger pool of players so we’ve got to work out what our best batting lineup is,” he added.
Keywords: Hamstring problem, Michael Clarke, Australian skipper, physio Alex Kountouris, spinners Graeme Swann, Monty Panesar, retirement of Mike Hussey, vice-captain Shane Watson, David Warner, Ed Cowan,