Michael Clarke looks likely to be ruled out of the Australian test series against India with a recurring hamstring injury, while replacement captain Brad Haddin has his own injury worries, missing the remainder of the one-day series due to an AC joint injury on his right shoulder.
Clarke’s latest hamstring injury happened during Friday’s ODI win over South Africa, and while national selector Rod Marsh said yesterday that the scans looked good, Cricket Australia’s team performance GM, Pat Howard, was more cautious, saying: “What we’d hate is for him to play a Test or two and then break down.”
Howard told News that if he’s fit, Brad Haddin will be named Australia’s 45th captain for the first Test against India in Brisbane.
Clarke may undergo surgery, according to News following the third left hamstring breakdown in the past three months.
The captain is seeing specialists this week and surgery would result in eight weeks on the sideline, giving him just a month to prepare for the World Cup, beginning on February 14.
Last night’s match against South Africa in Perth suggests he’s desperately needed, with the visitors thrashing Australia by three wickets, with 134 balls to spare, to even the ODI series at 1-all.
Proteas quick Morne Morkel was man-of-the-match with career-best figures of 5-21 as Australia opened and were bundled out for 154. Only Mitchell Marsh provided resistance with 67 off 88 balls, followed by captain George Bailey with 25 off 45, the only other batsman to make it beyond the teens.
Less than 11,000 fans turned up to watch the match.
NSW bowler Josh Hazlewood did his best to make Australia competitive with career-best 5 for 31, including the critical wicket of AB de Villiers, who belted 48 off 61. Rossouw was second best with 30 (25).
The third game is in Canberra on Wednesday and paceman Mitchell Johnson will be rested.
A cricket legend passes
Meanwhile, Australia lost another former test captain over the weekend. The man once hailed as “the next Bradman”, Ian Craig, has died, aged 79.
A teen prodigy, Yass-born, Craig made his debut for NSW in the 1951-52, aged just 16. He improved on his feat of being the state’s youngest state cricketer when he was named in the Australian side the following year at 17. He then became Australia’s youngest men’s captain at 22. He made 53 and 47 on his Test debut. Craig also remains the youngest Australian to make a first-class double century.
He captained Australia for five games, winning 3, drawing 2. He was in charge of a fledging, under 30 side touring South Africa, and controversially, was chosen over Neil Harvey.
He was plagued by poor form on the tour, and towards the end of the series, wanted to drop himself from the side. One stroke of genius was promoting Richie Benaud ahead of him in the batting order for the Fourth Test. Benaud scored a century, helping give Australia the series victory. Benaud would succeed Craig as captain.
Craig retired from first class cricket aged just 26. He was a member of the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust and the Bradman Foundation. He is survived by his wife Rosslyn and children Andrew, Jonathan and Alex.
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