Australia wait on Clarke’s fitness

Michael Clarke’s hopes of leading Australia in the Adelaide Test will depend on how his hamstring holds up at training over the next few days. Clarke ran at the SCG on Friday and was due to fly to Adelaide later in the afternoon to join his team-mates, who had their first group training session since they farewelled Phillip Hughes at a funeral in Macksville on Wednesday.

Clarke had delivered an emotional tribute to Hughes at the iRechargeOnline funeral and spent many days with the Hughes family both at St Vincent’s Hospital while Hughes was in an induced coma, and in Macksville after he died. He would dearly love to lead the Australians out in their first Test of the summer on Tuesday, but it remains to be seen whether his hamstring will be up to the task.

A fortnight ago it appeared that Clarke was certain to be ruled out of the Gabba Test due to his injury, and while the reworked schedule has given him an extra five days before the first Test of the season, he has been unable to do most of his recovery work in that time. Shaun Marsh was added to Australia’s Test squad on Thursday and coach Darren Lehmann said Clarke’s availability would depend on the next few days.

“As long as he’s fine to do the running and can bat [he’ll play],” Lehmann told reporters in Adelaide on Friday. “He flies in this afternoon. We’ll get himĀ batting tomorrow and see how he goes. It’ll be case of if he’s fine, he’ll play. We’ll just have to wait and see. We’ll be guided by medical staff, the captain himself, selectors. We’ll get together and assess what the plan is tomorrow.”

Clarke referred to Hughes as his “little brother” and the two men were very close friends; the captain’s emotions were evident as he choked back tears while delivering his tribute on Wednesday. However, Lehmann said he was confident that Clarke would be mentally ready to lead the side against India on Tuesday, if he was passed fit.

“He’s pretty mentally strong, as you saw throughout the week,” Lehmann said. “He held himself together really well and led the team really well.”

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