Sport Cricket Love returns: Boof gets a Pup for Valentine’s Day
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Love returns: Boof gets a Pup for Valentine’s Day

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As is his way, Darren Lehmann was to the point.

On Wednesday the Australian cricket coach put an end to the longest-running hamstring saga in Australian sport (with apologies to Cyril Rioli).

For all the talk of splits in the Australian camp, a party at Dave’s place (and an uninvited skipper), the deterioration of Clarke’s relationships with Rod Marsh and the brass at Cricket Australia, the coach was unequivocal.

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Boof was sick of the speculation. Boof needs Pup – a fit, bouncy Pup – to spearhead our World Cup campaign.

“At the end of the day, we know he (Clarke) is going to be right to go,” Boof said.

“We’re really confident in that, and he’s confident – that’s more important. We need him playing and playing well … and leading well.

“He’s ahead of schedule … he plays tomorrow, he gets through that no dramas, another box ticked and away we go.”

Clarke is to play for a Cricket Australia XI against Bangladesh in a one-day practice match at Brisbane’s Allan Border Field on Thursday.

He moved freely in fielding drills and in the nets on Wednesday morning as he met his Cricket Australia XI teammates – mostly youngsters and fringe Sheffield Shield players – for the first time.

Boof said talk of a rift between Clarke and his international teammates was off the mark.

“You’ve just got to deal with it, don’t you?” he said.

“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion but, for us, we know where we’re at as a squad. We’re in a good space.”

Mr and Mrs Clarke enjoy a spot of lunch at Chatswood Oval on Saturday. Photo: Getty
Mr and Mrs Clarke enjoy a spot of lunch at Chatswood Oval on Saturday. Photo: Getty

Clarke had been given until Australia’s second World Cup pool match against Bangladesh on February 21 to prove his fitness or be ruled out of the tournament.

But Boof hinted the skipper could be back for Australia’s Valentine’s Day opener against the Poms.

“He’s good to go and really confident he’ll be right to lead us hopefully before Bangladesh, but definitely by Bangladesh,” he said.

And Boof said under-the-pump stand-in skipper George Bailey might not be the man to make way for Clarke.

“George is George,” Boof said.

“He needs to make some runs like everyone else in the side, there’s no doubt about that.

“He knows that better than most.

“There’s no difference between the top player and the 15th player. We’re a squad and one thing I do know of World Cups, you need a squad to win it.

“I can’t complain about his work ethic and everything he’s brought as a captain to the table.

“It’s just a bit of confidence, and that can happen in this game as we know.

“As selectors, we’ll sit down and work out what the best side is and what the best combo is when they’re all fit and available.”

– with AAP

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