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10 December 2023

Captain Clarke ruled out of England clash

Australia's Michael Clarke (right) bowls during the one-day international World Cup warm-up cricket match between Australia and the UAE in Melbourne on February 11, 2015. (AFP)


Australia captain Michael Clarke was Thursday ruled out of his country's World Cup opener against old rivals England after battling to shake off fully his hamstring problems.

Coach Darren Lehmann confirmed that Clarke would not play at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday but should feature in Australia's second game against Bangladesh in Brisbane on February 21.

"He's not playing Saturday," said Lehmann. "We're really happy with his progress. We're going to stick with the plan and he's going to play against Bangladesh."

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Clarke, 33, top scored with 64 opening the batting in Wednesday's 188-run warm-up win over the United Arab Emirates in Melbourne where he also bowled two overs.

He was captaining Australia for the first time since his hamstring surgery almost two months ago.

"He's very keen to play against England," added Lehmann.

"We had a chat. We're making sure he's 100 per cent ready to go for Bangladesh. We're really comfortable with the decision."

Lehmann added that Clarke now needs to sharpen his fitness in the field ahead of the clash against Bangladesh.

"He has a few tests today to do but he'll pass those no dramas," the coach explained.

"It's making sure he gets into the fielding side of it in the next week and just ticks that off."

Clarke was initially given little hope of being fit in time, but has exceeded expectations in his recovery from hamstring surgery.

He will be key to Australia's hopes of winning a fifth world title, boasting an impressive 7,762 runs in his 238 ODIs with an average nudging 45.

Earlier this week, Clarke had rebuffed fears he would not be able to play all the games due to a heavy travel schedule including trips to Brisbane, Auckland and Perth.

"I've missed enough cricket over the last six months," he said.

"As soon as I can get back on the park I'm keen to play every game for Australia."