Adelaide: Team coach Darren Lehmann said on Sunday he doubts injured skipper Michael Clarke has played his last game for Australia. But Clarke’s immediate playing future is up in the air as he attempts to take his place in the World Cup, which starts in Australia and New Zealand on February 14.
Clarke was disconsolate after Australia’s 48-run first Adelaide Test win over India on Saturday after being forced off with a torn right hamstring.
It has been a frustrating time for the Australia captain after he overcame a left hamstring injury to play the opening Test against India, but suffered a flare-up of his degenerative back condition on day one.
Clarke retired hurt, returning to the crease the next day and completed a courageous and well-received hundred.
Clarke, 33, then injured his right hamstring while fielding on the final day, with scans confirming he will miss the rest of the four-Test series. He remains in serious doubt for the limited-overs World Cup, with Clarke fearful it could be even more serious than that.
“There’s a chance I may never play again,” he admitted to reporters after the Test.
But Lehmann believes Clarke will lead Australia again. “I think he will be back. You have your fingers crossed, we will wait and see,” he said.
Lehmann and fellow selectors must weigh up not only Clarke’s current state of health, but the risk his chronic back and hamstring woes could flare up unexpectedly as they did on Saturday in Adelaide. Team physio Alex Kountouris said before the Adelaide Test that it was a hard issue to manage with Clarke.
“Once he’s done it once, twice, the risks go up of a recurrence,” Kountouris said. “How we minimise those risks is difficult.”
Lehmann said Clarke had to get his injury situation under control ahead of the World Cup. “He needs to get it right. He knows that, we know that,” Lehmann said.
“One-day cricket is an explosive game and we need guys fully fit, all the time.”