BIRMINGHAM: Australia captain Michael Clarke remained sidelined from Champions Trophy action after he was ruled out of today’s match against New Zealand, Cricket Australia said in a statement yesterday.
A recurrence of the star batsman’s longstanding back injury meant he missed defending champions Australia’s opening 48-run defeat by England at Edgbaston on Saturday.
He will again be absent when Australia return to the Birmingham venue for their Group A clash with New Zealand today.
Australia are now pondering Clarke’s fitness for next week’s final pool match against Sri Lanka at The Oval.
By then, however, they may not be in a position to reach the semi-finals should they be defeated by the Black Caps and other results go against them.
In a Cricket Australia statement issued yesterday, team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said: “Michael is continuing to have intensive treatment in London, and whilst he is making good progress, he has not improved sufficiently enough to play the game against New Zealand.
“We will continue to monitor his progress and determine his availability for next week’s final group game against Sri Lanka.”
Clarke absence expected: Bailey
Stand-in skipper George Bailey said Clarke’s absence had come as no surprise.
“It’s something we’ve been preparing for. I don’t think ‘Pup’ [Clarke] was ever going to come in and play a game without having trained,” Bailey told reporters yesterday.
“So the fact he hadn’t rejoined the group as of yesterday (Monday), I think everyone assumed what was going on.”
“We have missed him. He’s our captain and our best batsman, so we miss him every time he’s not with us.
“But as any team does, when you’ve got your best players out, the challenge is for someone to step up and fill the hole.”
Bailey refused to speculate about whether the 32-year-old Clarke would be fit to play some part in the Champions Trophy or the Ashes.
“I’m not qualified, I’m no good at backs. I’ve got no idea what he’s going through. My understanding is he’s still trying to fix it day by day.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2013.
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