The Telegraph
Monday , August 25 , 2014
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Darren: Clarke desperate to play

Harare: Australia will make a late decision on captain Michael Clarke’s fitness for Monday’s tri-series opener against Zimbabwe, here, at the Harare Sports Club.

Clarke tweaked his left hamstring during Australia's first training session on Friday, but jogged several laps on Saturday to lend hope that he may recover in time.

However with a higher-profile game against South Africa to follow on Wednesday, it is possible that Clarke will be left out of the Zimbabwe clash as a precaution, in which case George Bailey would lead Australia. “Michael's better than he was on Friday, so he’s probably 50-50,” coach Darren Lehmann said.

“He’s desperate to play and we’re obviously desperate for our captain to play. We’ve got enough depth in our squad to chop and change if we need to. So we’ll just put the best side we possibly can out to win the game.”

Should Clarke be left out on Monday, then top-order batsman Phillip Hughes could take his place after coming into the squad following an injury to Shane Watson.

For his part, Clarke may opt to alter his travel plans for future overseas tours. Clarke, who has battled a chronic back problem throughout his career, suspected the lack of rest after a 15-hour flight from Sydney to Harare may have caused the injury.

“What I’ve learned through my career is that I probably need more time than most in regards to the gap between getting off a plane and training at full intensity. If it means I have to fly a couple of days earlier than the boys on the long trips, then that's what I've got to do.

“It’s hard because I’m a big believer in travelling with the team. I’ve always liked that,” he said. (AGENCIES)