Sport Cricket Hamstrung Clarke to bat in nets on Saturday
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Hamstrung Clarke to bat in nets on Saturday

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Michael Clarke will bat on Saturday as he ramps up his bid to play in next week’s first Test against India.

Clarke ran at the SCG on Friday and is set to link up with his teammates later in the day.

The Australia skipper, returning from a third hamstring setback since August and heartbroken following the death of close friend Phillip Hughes, will then train with the squad on Saturday.

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Selectors won’t take any risks with the 33-year-old, but they will also give him every chance of taking the field at Adelaide Oval on Tuesday.

“As long as he’s fine to do the running and can bat (he’ll play),” Australia coach Darren Lehmann said on Friday.

“He flies in this afternoon. We’ll get him 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 and the entire Test squad attended Hughes’ funeral on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Clarke attended a private cremation in Macksville with Hughes’ family while his teammates started to make their way to Adelaide.

“He’s pretty mentally strong, as you saw throughout the week,” Lehmann said of Clarke’s mindset should he lead Australia out in the emotional Test.

“He held himself together really well and led the team really well.”

The entire squad remains devastated by Hughes’ shock death.

Lehmann said it was too early to speculate who will or won’t be right to start the four-Test series.

“Time will tell, but today we’ll get out there and see how we go,” he said prior to Australia’s first training session since Hughes by struck by a bouncer at the SCG.

“We’ll wait and see.

“I reckon you’ll get a pretty good indication of how they’re going today.”

Lehmann was tightlipped about contingency plans in place should a handful of players decide they’re not ready to play cricket again.

“We’ve got plenty of steps behind the scenes and it probably stays with us,” he said.

Lehmann said he wouldn’t expect Australia to train at full intensity for a few days.

“Probably not today, but certainly by the weekend. By Sunday or Monday I’d expect them to be going 100 per cent,” he said.

Australia will train at a suburban oval on the fringes of the CBD on Friday, turning down the chance to have a run on Adelaide Oval.

“We could have gone there. We decided to come out into the open air,” Lehmann said.

AAP

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