Australia captain Michael Clarke will not play his country’s World Cup opener against arch-rivals England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday, coach Darren Lehmann said today.
Clarke made a steady comeback from his hamstring surgery, hitting 64 in a World Cup warm-up tie against the UAE and Lehmann said the 33-year-old will miss the first game to ensure he is 100 per cent fit for Australia’s second game against Bangladesh on February 21.
“He’s not playing Saturday. We’re really happy with his progress. We’re going to stick with the plan and he’s going to play against Bangladesh,” said Lehmann.
“He’s very keen to play against England. We had a chat. We’re making sure he’s 100 per cent ready to go for Bangladesh. We’re really comfortable with the decision.”
Lehmann said Clarke still has a few fitness tests to pass before the second game in Brisbane.
“The way he batted, ran, fielded, bowled (on Wednesday), ticked all the boxes. He’s still ticking those (boxes) off along the way. He has a few tests today to do but he’ll pass those no dramas,” the coach said.
“It’s making sure he gets into the fielding side of it in the next week and just ticks that off.”
Clarke exceeded all expectations in his recovery from hamstring surgery and remains vital to Australia’s hopes of clinching an unprecedented fifth World Cup title.