Michael Clarke named in Australia’s 15-man World Cup squad
SYDNEY (AP) — Captain Michael Clarke has been named in Australia’s 15-man Cricket World Cup squad, overcoming recent back injuries and hamstring surgery to be included in the side.
Clarke missed three of the four tests against India and was in doubt for the World Cup which begins on Feb. 14 in Australia and New Zealand. But Clarke said during recent television commentary appearances that his recovery was proceeding better than expected.
However, he has been given until Feb. 21 to prove his fitness, at which time he could be replaced before Australia’s second match in the tournament against Bangladesh in Brisbane.
The same squad will represent Australia in a tri-series with India and England, which begins with an Australia-England match on Friday in Sydney.
“I’ll have my work cut out to prove my fitness, but it won’t be through a lack of effort and I’m confident I’ll be fit,” Clarke said on Sunday when the squad was announced. “I still think I’ve got a lot to offer this team in both those (one-day and test) formats.”
National selector Rod Marsh said “in an ideal world it would’ve been nice to have had Michael ready for the first game.”
“We have said that if Michael has not recovered by our second match of the tournament against Bangladesh ... we will replace him in the squad. He understands that and is working tirelessly with medical staff to get back to fitness.
“Our medical staff are pleased with his progress following hamstring surgery in December and he continues to undergo thorough rehabilitation work.”
Mitch Marsh, who missed recent tests in Melbourne and Sydney against India due to a hamstring strain, was also named in a squad that contained few surprises.
Allrounders Marsh, Shane Watson and James Faulkner were all automatic selections. Mitchell Johnson, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood will make up the pace attack.
Xavier Doherty was selected as the specialist spinner, Brad Haddin will keep wickets, and David Warner and Aaron Finch will open the batting for the co-hosts.
“Xavier is a reliable spin bowler who we know can perform well in the 50-over format,” Rod Marsh said. “We also have other spin options in Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith and Michael Clarke if required.”
Batsmen and acting test captain Steve Smith, who scored 769 runs in the four-test India series which Australia won 2-0, and vice-captain George Bailey are also in.
The tournament starts with Australia facing England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Feb. 14, with the final to be held at the same venue on March 29.
Australia relinquished the World Cup in 2011, losing to eventual winner India in a quarterfinal.
Australia is attempting to win a record fifth World Cup after taking home the trophy from India in 1987, England in 1999, South Africa in 2003 and the West Indies in 2007.
Australia: David Warner, Aaron Finch, Shane Watson, Steve Smith, Michael Clarke (captain), George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Mitch Marsh, James Faulkner, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Xavier Doherty.