[QODLink]
Cricket

Clarke set to play Sydney Test

Australian captain overcomes injury for third Test against Sri Lanka as team prepare to farewell Michael Hussey.
Last Modified: 01 Jan 2013 15:02
Australia will bid farewell to Mike Hussey who will play his last and 79th Test match for his country in Sydney [Reuters]

Australia skipper Michael Clarke came through a fitness Test on Tuesday, indicating he will play in this week's third Test against Sri Lanka and resolve at least one of the hosts' selection problems for the dead rubber match.

With an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series, Australia could have been forgiven for going into the match, which starts at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday, riding on the crest of a wave of optimism for the future.

The hammer blow of Michael Hussey's retirement announcement coming so quickly after that of Ricky Ponting, though, has left them contemplating their batting resources with a Test series in India and back-to-back Ashes encounters to come this year.

Sri Lanka, despite being humbled by an innings and 201 runs inside three days in the second Test in Melbourne, can still hold onto the hope of claiming a first Test victory in Australia on what should be the most spin-friendly of the three tracks.

Hussey farewell

Hussey announced last week that the Sydney Test would be his 79th and last, and the 37-year-old's chances of going out with a bang are high if statistics are anything to go by.

"Mr Cricket", as he is affectionately nicknamed, has averaged 117.75 runs in his seven previous Tests against Sri Lanka, 100 in a similar number of matches at the SCG and has scored centuries in three of his last five Tests.

Australia might need those runs if Clarke's hamstring is not risked and he joins all rounder Shane Watson in the treatment room, leaving a batting order as low on experience as Sri Lanka's is rich in it.

Usman Khawaja remains on standby for Clarke and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade admitted there would be a lot more expectation on those players who have played fewer than 20 Tests, not least the uncapped Glenn Maxwell.

"We've got to accept the responsibility," Wade told reporters this week.

"It's a big hole that's going to be out of our team but our young batters are keen and eager to learn and get better and hopefully there's another 'Mr Cricket' waiting in our top six or seven."

Bowling options

Mitchell Starc is certain to return to the pace bowling unit, leaving one of Mitchell Johnson (man of the match in Melbourne), Peter Siddle (ditto in the first Test in Hobart) or Jackson Bird (an impressive debutant in Melbourne) to miss out.

Sri Lanka's battered and bruised tour party, by contrast, have had to call for reinforcements after injuries ruled out batsman Kumar Sangakkara and bowler Chanaka Welagedera and put serious doubt over wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene and seamer Nuwan Kulasekara.

Still, batsman Thilan Samaraweera said they were still motivated by the chance of making a little bit of cricketing history.

"It was really hard to digest that defeat ... but that's the past now," batsman Thilan Samaraweera said on Monday.

"The good thing is this team has to believe they can make history if they win one Test in Australia.

"That is the kind of attitude we are taking into the New Year's Test."

550

Source:
Reuters
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.