• CWC countdown (9 days to go)

    Michael Clarke’s quest to be fit for the World Cup is ahead of schedule and he will captain Australia at the tournament if he meets his fitness deadline.

    Clarke has until 21 February to prove his fitness after hamstring surgery and has also had to deal with reports that he was about to be replaced as captain by Steve Smith.

    Clarke looked impressive in a net session on Wednesday ahead of Australia’s practice match against Bangladesh on Thursday.

    ‘The medical staff dictate how hard I can push but I think everybody is pretty happy at the moment,’ Clarke told the Brisbane Times afterwards.

    Australia coach Darren Lehmann made a point of clearing up any uncertainty over Clarke’s involvement in the World Cup, saying the 33-year-old will captain Australia if fit and reiterated his importance to the squad going forward.

    ‘I think as a group we know he’s ready to come back and play. And we want him to play. He’s captain of our country and he’s going to lead us really well in the World Cup. Fingers crossed he gets through the next couple of games and he’s ready to go,’ Lehmann said.

    ‘We know what’s going on within our group and we’re really comfortable with where we’re sitting. Out of the last 23 games, we’ve won 19 of them, so we’re in a good space. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but we know where we are at as a squad. He’s got a pretty important job to play with us as leader and we need him back playing well and leading well.’

    Post by