Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke faces a race to be fit for the second Ashes Test against England in Adelaide.
Clarke strained his right ankle during fielding drills on Monday and skipped the team practice on Tuesday.
Cricket Australia said Clarke’s ankle was a bit stiff and sore but he would be OK to play his 99th Test match, which starts on Thursday at the Adelaide Oval. Team management said Clarke would train on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old, who scored a century in the second innings of Australia’s 381-run win in the series opener against England in Brisbane last week, has a history of back problems and missed Australia’s recent limited-overs tour to India so he could focus on rehabilitation between the Ashes series loss in England in August and the return five-match series.
But Australian allrounder Shane Watson said Clarke being rested was a more precautionary action on Tuesday.
“I know the medical staff and Michael are very confident,” Watson said.
“It was just giving him a break today and he’ll be training flat-out tomorrow, ready to go for Thursday.”
We are a group of guys, especially when our backs are against the wall, we come out fighting
Clarke has had a rough time since ending Australia’s winless drought in the first test, with the injury coming on top of a fine and sanction from the International Cricket Council because an obscene word he used while taunting England tailender Jimmy Anderson was heard on the television broadcast during the tense final minutes of the match.
The Australians may need Clarke to bowl some spin in support of NathanLyon at Adelaide, where the drop-in pitch doesn’t offer a lot of bounce for the fast bowlers and tends to play true for the batsmen.
Watson had a hamstring injury going into the first test in Brisbane and only needed to bowl two overs as the pacemen skittled England for 136 and 179.
He has volunteered to take up more of the bowling slack in Adelaide to lessen the load on the quicks, particularly as there’s only a three-day break between the second test and the third test at Perth’s notoriously bouncy WACA ground.
“The wicket is going to be flat, the bowlers are potentially going to have to bowl many more overs compared with Brisbane to be able to bowl the English out,” Watson said of Adelaide.
England’s cricketers have a big task ahead of them, if they’re to get back on track for a fourth Ashes series win.
But England paceman Tim Bresnan returns to the squad for the second test full of fighting spirit.
“We are a group of guys, especially when our backs are against the wall, we come out fighting,” Bresnan said.
“We’ve done it time and time again in test series, especially when we’re put under pressure and in a corner.
“That’s really when we show our mental fortitude.”