Michael Clarke © Getty Images
Michael Clarke has had a long-time back injury that frequently keeps him out of action © Getty Images

Sydney: Nov 20, 2014

Captain Michael Clarke still has a chance of leading Australia in the first Test against India but will not play in next week’s final lead-up game, team medical staff said Thursday.

Clarke has been in doubt to face India in next month’s Test series opener in Brisbane since injuring his troublesome left hamstring while batting during last Friday’s one-day win over South Africa in Perth. Team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said it was still unclear how long Clarke would be out of cricket.

However, he said it was “not that dramatic that he’s going to miss the whole summer” and he was hoping the skipper would be able to lead Australia into the first Test, starting at the Gabba on December 4. Clarke has been ruled out of playing in a four-day Sheffield Shield match next week, which will act as the final hit-out before the first Test.

“There comes a point where there’s no more healing to be done and waiting longer does not give any more benefit,” Kountouris told a media conference. “The real risks for him are he’s got a back injury, it puts a lot of pressure on his hamstrings, he’s an older athlete and that’s a risk factor. He’s had multiple hamstring injuries on both legs. They’re not risk factors we can get rid of.”

It is the third hamstring setback for Clarke, 33, since August, and he has already been ruled out of the remainder of the five-game ODI series against South Africa, where Australia took a 2-1 lead after a 73-run win in Canberra on Wednesday. Kountouris said Clarke had suffered an acute flare-up of a degenerative back condition which was complicating the hamstring issue.

Asked how long he would be out of action with the latest injury, Kountouris said: “I can’t put a figure on it right now. As he is right now, he hasn’t started running, he hasn’t started doing any of the functional things that we want him to do. He’s not able to bat. So he’s not ready to play at the moment. He needs to start running and start doing things before we make a decision on whether he’s OK to play. I’m still hopeful that he might be right for the first Test because that’s two weeks away.” The test series will be followed by the ICC World Cup 2015 hosted by Australia and New Zealand in February-March.