Clarke 'quietly confident'

Australia vice-captain believes he will be fit for Ashes opener

Last Updated: 22/11/10 12:46pm

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Clarke: Missed training

Clarke: Missed training

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Australia vice-captain Michael Clarke insists he is "quietly confident" he will be fit for the Ashes opener in Brisbane.

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Clarke is a major doubt for the first Test at the Gabba, which gets underway on Thursday, due to an on-going back problem.

Clarke aggravated the injury playing for New South Wales in the Sheffield Shield and was forced to sit out training on Monday.

However Clarke believes he will be able to train on Tuesday with his absence from training all part of his planned preparations.

"Obviously I am not 100 per cent otherwise I would have trained today but I am confident if I keep doing the right things and spending 24/7 with our physio I am sure he can get us up for Thursday," he told Sky Sports News.

"I am certainly not going to take to the field unless I can perform as well as I can I think that would be silly of me and I don't want to let the team down but if I do feel I can do my role to the best of my ability I will be out there.

Recovery

"I have had back problems my whole career. I don't think they are going to go away in a hurry but it is about managing it as I can and that is the important thing.

"Our plan was always to train Tuesday and Wednesday and our plan hasn't changed. I am quietly confident that if I do the right things then I will be definitely right to training tomorrow. We can then see how that holds on Wednesday morning then take things from there."

However while Clarke is optimistic, Australia physiotherapist Alex Kountouris remains more cautious about the all-rounder's involvement.

"Michael is in the process of recovery," said Alex Kountouris.

"Part of the plan was for him not to bat today but to bat tomorrow and Wednesday - and we hope he'll be available for the game.

"I'm reasonably optimistic. But it will be after he bats tomorrow and recovers from that when we will really know how he is.

"Until he bats tomorrow, we can't be absolutely 100% sure that he's okay to go.

Doubt

"It's something that just flared up, and unfortunately the timing of it is not great.

"If it had happened two weeks ago it wouldn't be a problem. In another week he'd be okay - it's whether we've timed our run correctly."

Cricket Australia have moved quickly to cover any potential loss of Clarke by calling up Pakistan-born batsman Usman Khawaja.

The 23-year-old hardly caught the eye as Australia A suffered a comprehensive defeat to England in Hobart.

However national selection panel chairman Andrew Hilditch insisted Khawaja would prove a capable stand-in if called upon.

"As there is some doubt over Michael Clarke's fitness for the Brisbane Test match, it was felt prudent to bring a standby player into the squad," he added.

"Usman has been added as a result of his strong recent domestic form and the NSP's belief that should the opportunity arise he has the ability to perform well at the international level.

"We intend to give Michael as much time as possible to prove his fitness and a decision on his availability will be made in consultation with the team's medical staff after the next two days of training."

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