Australian captain Michael Clarke refreshed after 'tough summer'

The 34-year-old batsman will lead Australia into the second test against West Indies in Kingston later on Friday

Reuters June 11, 2015

Australia captain Michael Clarke had little time to reflect on a "tough summer" battling injury and grieving the death of his friend Phillip Hughes but took satisfaction in defying the doubters who thought him a spent force.

The 34-year-old batsman will lead Australia into the second test against West Indies in Kingston later on Friday, six months after thinking his career might be over in the wake of another injury to his problematic hamstring.

Clarke's comeback from surgery to help his team win a fifth World Cup triumph on home soil was a fairytale finish for his one-day career and a decisive answer to critics who had written him off as a physical and emotional wreck.

Though preparing Australia's bid to sweep West Indies 2-0 and retain the Ashes in England next month, Clarke looked back on a tumultuous period in his life when his grief for team mate Hughes and struggle for fitness played out in the full public glare.

"I think my main focus at the time was getting through the passing of Phillip and supporting his family as much as I could," Clarke told reporters in Jamaica.

"And then when I was doing that I guess I made the decision to have surgery on my hamstring to give myself any chance, in my opinion, of making it back to the World Cup.

"So I didn't get too many days to stop and reflect, which I think for me personally was probably a good thing.

"I just think when you lose someone close it's hard to not think about them but if you've got something else on your mind, sometimes that can drive you. And that's probably the way I tried to use it.

"The fact that I was able to get myself fit for that World Cup, help the team make the final, help the team win the final, I was really proud of myself to be able to do that.

"I don't think there was too many people who thought I was going to make it. That was really satisfying.

"To get that result was icing on the cake for what was a tough summer off the field."

Clarke has played with a back condition throughout his career but said his body was feeling "outstanding" as he prepared for his 110th test.

"I've had degeneration in my back for my whole career but I've managed it," he added. "But since surgery I haven't felt my hamstring. Long may that continue."


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