With the optimism over Michael Clarke’s fitness for the test series against India fading fast, Australia’s selectors will have to ponder their captaincy options as well as the make-up of their bowling attack over the next week.
Chief selector Rod Marsh’s confidence the 33-year-old would be fit to face India at the Gabba on Dec 4 was undermined by Pat Howard on Monday, the team performance manager saying Clarke had virtually no chance of playing in the series.
Coach Darren Lehmann has not given up hope, however.
“Until I get confirmation, I’m not going to say he’s in or he’s out,” he told reporters in Perth on Monday.
“At the moment, he’s captain of Australia and, if he’s fit to play and gets through the next little bit, then hopefully he’ll front up in the first test.”
Since taking over as captain in 2011, Clarke has managed a long-term back injury, which contributes to his frequent hamstring problems, to play all but one of his country’s 39 tests.
But with Australia’s main priority over the next couple of months being to keep him fit for the World Cup, an understudy might now be required for the four matches against India. The most obvious choice to become Australia’s 45th test captain is vice captain Brad Haddin.
Shane Watson, who stood in for the injured Clarke for one test on the India tour last year, is another option but neither the 33-year-old all rounder nor Haddin, 37, are long term solutions.
George Bailey, 32, stood in as skipper of the one-day team after Clarke’s hamstring failed him again in the opening match of the series against South Africa last Friday.