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24 February 2024

Cyclone threatens Clarke's Aussie return

Australia's Michael Clarke (third left) chats with his players after beating the United Arab Emirates during the one-day international World Cup warm-up cricket match between Australia and the UAE in Melbourne on February 11, 2015. (AFP)


Australia's World Cup campaign as well as Michael Clarke's long-awaited return could be blown off course by a tropical cyclone which threatens to dump 30cm of rain on Brisbane in the lead-up to Saturday's clash with Bangladesh.

Australia's meteorology office has forecast an 80 per cent chance of rain, with thunderstorms on Saturday when the game takes place at the Gabba.

"Beautiful sunshine at the moment, but I think that's it for the day - we got a couple of days of wet weather," Australia coach Darren Lehmann said Wednesday.

"We'll work out what the best XI is once it clears up. It might be different with overcast conditions and we might decide to play a different way, and it depends on the wicket."

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The uncertainty over the weather has created doubts over Clarke's scheduled return to the team after he missed last weekend's 111-run opening win against England at Melbourne.

Stand-in skipper George Bailey is the man expected to make way for Clarke but it could be that the wild weather will leave the captain kicking his heels until Australia's third game of the tournament, against fellow co-hosts and title contenders New Zealand in Auckland on February 28.

Lehmann insisted Australia's selectors would not be influenced by outside "feedback" when they decide on who to drop ahead of the Gabba clash, with many critics demanding all-rounder Shane Watson be axed after his golden duck against England.

"You do listen to what's being said but at the end of the day you have got to make the right call for that particular game," Lehmann told SEN radio.

"You get all the callers and all the feedback but you've got to make the right decision and we'll always try and do that."

The grim weather forecast could force the players indoors for nets after rain hit the Gabba training session on Wednesday.

"The wickets were a little bit juicy so it was interesting facing the quicks that was for sure," said Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell.

"I just faced Patty Cummins with a new ball in there (the nets) and I don't wish that on anyone. If it is like that (juicy), I guess it would be a temptation to let four quicks rip (on Saturday)."

"It doesn't look ideal for the next couple of days but Saturday looks like it will clear up a little bit."