Australia have decided against rushing back captain Michael Clarke for Saturday’s World Cup opener against England and he will instead make his return to the side in their second match with Bangladesh as previously planned.
The batsman has been struggling with a hamstring injury in recent weeks, an issue that required surgery and forced him out of the Tests with India and the Carlton Mid Triangular tournament.
His most recent ailment is the latest in a long line of fitness problems that have plagued him over the last couple of years but he showed up well in a friendly against the UAE on Wednesday, producing a decent knock of 64.
Clarke’s performance had prompted speculation that he was ahead of schedule and that the medical staff could decide to clear him for the match against England in Melbourne, which the Baggy Greens are currently 1.35 to win, with the Three Lions priced at 3.22.
However, they have now confirmed that they will not rush the skipper and that the 33-year-old will return as planned in the clash against Bangladesh in Brisbane on February 21.
Coach Darren Lehmann, whose team are the 2.75 favourites to win the tournament outright, says he is happy with the call and believes the extra rest will benefit his captain.
“He’s pulled up really well… we’re really happy with his progress,”
he said. “We’re going to stick with the plan and he’s going to play against Bangladesh.”
“We had a chat, we’re making sure he’s 100 percent ready to go. We’re really comfortable with the decision.”