Australian captain Michael Clarke has reportedly been ruled out of the first Test against India.
Cricket Australia told Clarke he needs to play a two-day tour game against India in Adelaide starting on Friday to prove his fitness for the opening Test at the Gabba, which starts on Thursday week.
Clarke said on Monday he wouldn’t be ready for that game, but was still hopeful of playing in a Sydney grade match on Saturday to prove his recovery from his third hamstring injury since August.
But on Tuesday morning, News Corp Australia reported that a line had been put through his name for the Test on advice from medical staff that the skipper would not be able to play either game this week.
News reported that Cricket Australia had declared that if Clarke was unable to play in the tour match, he would not be considered for Test selection – CA at odds with the skipper.
Vice-captain Brad Haddin, having recovered from a shoulder injury, is set to lead the side in a Test for the first time, becoming Australia’s 45th Test skipper.
Both Clarke and high performance chief Pat Howard have anointed the veteran wicketkeeper as a suitable caretaker captain, amid calls for Steve Smith to be blooded.
“I’m a real good vice-captain. I don’t know about captain. If the time comes and that’s the decision they decide to go with, I’m comfortable,” Haddin said on Monday.
“I can lead a cricket team.”
Phillip Hughes and Shaun Marsh are the leading contenders to take Clarke’s batting spot for the Gabba Test.
Chief selector Rod Marsh was cagey when asked about a shadow batsman on Monday.
“We’re not naming anyone just yet. Whether or not we have one, that’s for us to know and you to find out and I’m not telling you,” Marsh said.
Clarke was provisionally included in Australia’s 12-man squad for the opening clash of the four-Test series against India when it was announced on Monday morning.
To stay in the squad, Marsh noted the hamstrung captain must play in the tour match against India.
Clarke seemingly confirmed on Monday afternoon he would not play that game.
“I’ve been pulled out of, or passed unfit to play the game in Adelaide. The medical team in the Australian cricket team have ruled me out of that game,” Clarke said.
But the 33-year-old was determined to play for his club side Western Suburbs on Saturday, saying he could prove then that he’s ready for the Gabba.
CA responded later on Monday by dismissing both suggestions.
“Should he be in a position to really progress his running in the coming days, our desire is that he plays for the CA XI in the two-day tour match against India at the Adelaide Oval,” CA said in a statement late on Monday.
“Accordingly, a final decision on his fitness has not yet been determined and he has not yet been ruled out of the tour match by the CA medical team.
“If he is not able to get up for the CA XI game, and given his history with this recurring injury, he will be ruled out of any cricket this week and the first Test.
“Our focus will shift to getting him fit to play the second Test in Adelaide.”