Michael Clarke to lead Australia against India in ODI series but fitness a concern

Michael Clarke said his selection in the playing XI would be subject to fitness © Getty Images

Melbourne: Sep 19, 2013

Hoping that he will recover from his back problem in time, Australia on Thursday named Michael Clarke as captain for the one-day series against India but made it clear that his selection in the playing XI would be subject to fitness.

Australia, who beat Ashes rival England 2-1 in a recent ODI series, will play seven one-dayers during the tour, beginning October 10 with a one-off Twenty20 in Rajkot.

Clarke, on his part, remained confident of getting fit for the series.

“No doubt it’s quite stiff and sore. But I’ll be guided by the experts on what I need to do now to try and get myself as fit as I can be,” Clarke told reporters in Sydney.

“I would certainly like to go and continue to play. I’m enjoying my cricket at the moment.”

Australia named a 14-man squad, dropping an out-of-form Mathew Wade, paceman Josh Hazlewood and spinner Fawad Ahmed.

Ahmed, a cricketer of Pakistani origins, made his Australia debut after getting citizenship recently. He has been dropped in favour of Xavier Doherty, who the selectors feel is better suited to the Indian conditions.

The selectors also chose to ignore injured batsman Shaun Marsh and David Warner.

“Shaun Marsh sustained a hamstring injury at Cardiff Sep 14 and could not be considered for selection. Matthew Wade has been omitted due to lack of form and has been replaced by Brad Haddin, who captured an Ashes series record of dismissals in July and August,” said Inverarity in a statement.

Brad Haddin, who captured an Ashes series record of dismissals during the England tour, will be the lone stumper in the side.

“After a long tour Michael Clarke’s back condition has flared up again and he has been selected subject to fitness.

He has returned to Australia for further assessment and the NSP hopes that it will improve in time for the Indian tour,” National Selection Committee chief John Inverarity said.

“There will be a reduced need for pace bowling on this tour so the squad has been reduced from 15 to 14 players and Josh Hazlewood has been omitted. Moises Henriques has been included as a pace bowling all-rounder and will provide the required flexibility. Xavier Doherty has been included in the squad in place of Fawad Ahmed as he is well suited to one-dayers in India,” added Inverarity.

On dropping Ahmed, Inverarity said, “As previously alluded to, Xavier Doherty has been included in the squad, in place of Fawad Ahmed, as the NSP feels that he is well suited to ODIs in India.

“Fawad bowled well with his limited opportunities in the rain affected series and better than his figures would suggest. The NSP looks forward to Fawad getting plenty of bowling in the busy domestic schedule that begins at the end of this month.”

Cricket Australia has also confirmed that Steve Rixon will be the Head Coach for the tour as Darren Lehmann will take a break to spend some time with his family.

Cricket Australia Executive General Manager Team Performance Pat Howard said, “As with the successful tour of the UAE last year we will have Steve Rixon acting as Head Coach in India.”

“Darren has been on the road and away from home for a considerable amount of time. This is a great opportunity for Darren to refresh, work with the States and provide others with opportunities.”

(With inputs from IANS)