Clarke to play in grade cricket

Melbourne, Jan 30 (IANS) Australia captain Michael Clarke is set to continue his return from injury by playing in a Grade game this weekend as a batsman only, then in a match against a Bangladesh XI Feb 5 as a batsman and in a limited fielding capacity.

According to a Cricket Australia (CA) release, Clarke remains on track for a return in Australia’s second ICC Cricket World Cup match on February 21.

Clarke will continue his recovery from surgery to his right hamstring this weekend when he will play for Western Suburbs as a batsman only in a Saturday and Sunday Grade fixture against Gordon at Chatswood Oval.

Should Michael come through that match without any adverse reaction, he will then continue his rehabilitation at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane before playing for a Cricket Australia XI against the Bangladesh ICC Cricket World Cup squad in a match at Allan Border Field Feb 5.

The intention is that Michael will play the match against the Bangladesh XI as a batsman and in a limited fielding capacity.

Australian team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said: “Michael is making good progress following his injury and the subsequent surgery six weeks ago, and the fixture in Sydney this weekend when he will play only as a batsman, and next week’s match in Brisbane, where he will play as a batsman with a limited fielding role, are all part of a gradual return to competitive action.

“We are determined to maintain a conservative approach to the management of Michael’s recovery but should he come through these matches without any adverse reaction, he remains on target to return as per our original schedule, for the second match of Australia’s ICC Cricket World Cup campaign, against Bangladesh in Brisbane Feb 21.”

Michael Clarke said: “I am really happy to be playing for my Grade club this weekend and regard this as a positive step on my road to a return to full fitness.

“It is exciting to be at this stage where I can consider walking onto a cricket field again and so, thanks to the guidance of the Cricket Australia medical staff and with the work I have put in, the signs are positive.

“But at the same time I know I have to respect the fact that I am on a daily programme and there is no point in us getting too far ahead of ourselves. I know I need to take things one step and one day at a time and so, for now, all I am doing is focusing on things day by day and with a belief in a positive outcome.”