Michael Clarke has been named to lead Australia into the summer’s opening Test but his availability for the match against India will depend on him playing a tour match that starts in Adelaide on Friday.
As foreshadowed by cricket.com.au, Clarke has been named in Australia’s 12-man squad for the first match of the Commonwealth Bank Test Series against India that begins at the Gabba in Brisbane on December 4.
However the selectors – who also named uncapped fast bowler Josh Hazlewood along with recovered veterans Shane Watson and Ryan Harris in place of Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell – indicated that Clarke’s selection was subject to proving he has overcome a hamstring injury.
In order to show that he is fit enough to play under match conditions, Clarke has been added to a Cricket Australia XI that will play a two-day game against the Indian touring team at Adelaide Oval on Friday and Saturday.
If he does not get through that fixture and prove that his recurring left hamstring problem will withstand the rigours of a five-day Test, then a replacement batsman will be drafted into the squad.
The Australian team’s Bupa Support Team Doctor Peter Brukner said Clarke, who is undergoing daily treatment for the injury and was to have played grade cricket for his Sydney club Western Suburbs next weekend, will be given every opportunity to show he is right for the first of the summer’s four Tests.
“We still have some time before having to make a final decision on Michael’s fitness,” Brukner said.
“As you would expect, he’s desperate to play and we are doing all that we can to ensure he can do just that.
“Over the coming days the plan is to build him up so that he can resume running with the ultimate aim of getting him some high-intensity match practice ahead of the first Test.”
Test Squad: Clarke (c), Haddin (vc), Harris, Hazlewood, Johnson, Lyon, M Marsh, Rogers, Siddle, Smith, Warner, Watson pic.twitter.com/FO7PIB26Vd
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) November 23, 2014
Chairman of selectors Rod Marsh said the tour match against India would provide 33-year-old Clarke with the opportunity to prove he is fully fit for Test duty.
“We would have preferred him to play in the round of Sheffield Shield starting tomorrow but unfortunately his condition did not allow him enough time to be ready for that match,” Marsh said
“The aim is for him to play in the two-day CA XI match against India at the Adelaide Oval starting this Friday and his selection for the first Test is very much dependent on him pulling up well from that match.
“It goes without saying that Michael is a world-class batsman and it is important that he is 100 per-cent fit to be able to play in the first Test.”
Harris, who underwent knee surgery in the wake of Australia’s successful Test tour of South Africa earlier this year, will also be looking to prove his fitness in the round of Bupa Sheffield Shield matches that begin on Tuesday.
The 35-year-old believes he needs more bowling under his belt before he should be considered for a return to the Test arena, which means the chances of Hazlewood making his Test debut at the Gabba are strong.
Hazlewood, from Tamworth in New South Wales, has impressed with his performances during Australia’s 4-1 Carlton Mid ODI Series win over South Africa which has enabled them to reclaim the world’s number one ODI ranking.
He was also a star for the Blues in last season’s Sheffield Shield final against the Alcohol. Think Again Western Australia Warriors in Canberra earlier this year.
“Josh is a young player of great talent and he thoroughly deserves this opportunity,” Marsh said.
“He has impressed in the recent one-day series and we are excited to see what he can produce if given the opportunity in Brisbane.
“Ryan (Harris) has worked extremely hard to return to elite cricket following his knee surgery.
“We know what a quality player he is.
“He will play in this upcoming round of Sheffield Shield to get more bowling under his belt but we are all hopeful he will be ready for a big summer of cricket.”
Australia: Michael Clarke (c) (NSW*), Brad Haddin (vc) (NSW), Ryan Harris (QLD), Josh Hazlewood (NSW), Mitchell Johnson (WA), Nathan Lyon (NSW), Mitchell Marsh (WA), Chris Rogers (VIC), Peter Siddle (VIC), Steve Smith (NSW), David Warner (NSW), Shane Watson (NSW). *Notes subject to fitness