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World Cup 2015: Are Cricket Australia and Michael Clarke on collision course?

It seems all is not well with Australia cricket officials and Michael Clarke who is still recovering from hamstring operation that ruled him out first from three test against India and than from on going
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India TV Sports Desk January 28, 2015 12:23 IST

It seems all is not well with Australia cricket officials and Michael Clarke who is still recovering from hamstring operation that ruled him out first from three test against India and than from on going Tri series. Steven Smith was given the responsibility in test series and he responded well with his bat.
 
Clarke surely will lead the Australia squad at next month's World Cup if he can prove his fitness before the deadline set by the board.

Its learnt that after months of tension with selectors and key management personnel there is likely to be a reassessment about his long-term role before this year's Ashes tour of England. senior Australian cricket officials have gone to the extent of discussing the option of appointing Steven Smith as the country's permanent captain beyond the World Cup, leaving Michael Clarke's position in the balance.

According to some sources in the Australian board an ideal scenario discussed is for the 33-year-old to stay in the team, with few disputing that as a world-class batsman he remains in Australia's best XI when fit, but how continuing as a player only under the leadership of the younger Smith would sit with Clarke's pride is yet to be seen.

However Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said Tuesday he had a huge amount of confidence in Michael as a player, captain and a leader". But behind the scenes there is angst over public positions taken by the captain in the past three months and concern about the growing distance between him and Australian teammates.

Any decision on the captaincy would have to be confirmed by the Cricket Australia board, but would be based on the recommendation of the selection panel, headed by Rod Marsh.

Marsh was among those who fell out with Clarke before the first Test against India over where and how he should prove his fitness.

Clarke said this week that he wanted to continue in the captaincy long term.  That comment, along with another where he declared an intention to play on until the 2019 World Cup, rankled some at the highest level of the Australian administration.

They believe he has earned no more respect than that afforded to his predecessors, such as Ricky Ponting, who bowed out of the captaincy in 2011 after unhappy Ashes and World Cup campaigns, when tough decisions had to be made.

Clarke's remark to News Corp about playing on for another four years – when he would be 37 – has been interpreted as him digging his heels in, contradicting previous indications that he did not see his international career continuing into his late 30s as did Ponting's and Mike Hussey's.


 
Clarke can hardly be condemned for his tireless bid to match the February 21 World Cup time limit set by selectors for him to have recovered properly from hamstring surgery.

The deadline itself, though, is the source of more disharmony, with Clarke under the impression from Howard that he would be given until March 4  when Australia take on Afghanistan in Perth. But Marsh said he would have to be fit to play Bangladesh two weeks earlier or sit out the World Cup.

The ongoing internal troubles aside, the subject of Clarke's body is another factor for selectors and the board to contend with, given his wretched run with back and hamstring injuries. It was a major reason behind the appointment of Smith as his interim replacement against India.

 
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