Clarke included in test squad pending fitness test
Brisbane, Australia: Michael Clarke has been selected to lead Australia in the first test against India despite concerns over back and hamstring injuries that forced him out of the limited-overs series win over South Africa.
Australia selectors announced the 12-man squad Monday for the Dec. 4-8 match, including Clarke subject to fitness, and calling in uncapped paceman Josh Hazlewood.
Vice-captain Brad Haddin was also selected, despite missing the 4-1 ODI series win over South Africa with a shoulder injury sustained in a test series loss to Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. Veteran fast bowler Ryan Harris was recalled after just one first-class match since returning from knee surgery.
Clarke was added to a Cricket Australia XI for a two-day tour match against India in Adelaide starting Friday to test the injury, and chief selector Rod Marsh said if the 33-year-old batsman couldn't run by Wednesday "We can safely assume he won't be playing the test."
"We would never ever rest the Australian captain in the first test of a series but if he's not fit, obviously he can't play," Marsh said. "With his recent history, we can't have him breaking down in the first innings."
Clarke has hurt his left hamstring three times since August, forcing him out of series in Zimbabwe in September and at home against South Africa.
"He's desperate to play and we are doing all that we can to ensure he can do just that," Australia team doctor Peter Brukner said. "Over the coming days the plan is to build him up so that he can resume running with the ultimate aim of getting him some high-intensity match practice ahead of the first test."
The 35-year-old Harris will play a Sheffield Shield match for Queensland this week, hoping to bowl enough overs to prove he has the condition to return for a five-day match against India.
If Harris isn't fit, Hazlewood is likely to earn his first test cap. The 23-year-old Hazlewood has played six ODIs for Australia, including four in the series against South Africa that finished Sunday. He took nine wickets in the series and was preferred to Mitchell Starc for a spot in the test squad alongside Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Harris.
"Josh is a young player of great talent and he thoroughly deserves this opportunity," Marsh said. "He has impressed in the recent one-day series and we are excited to see what he can produce if given the opportunity in Brisbane."
Australia: Michael Clarke (captain), Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, David Warner, Shane Watson.