Michael Clarke To Captain Australia At World Cup

Darren Lehmann backs his skipper to make a timely return.

Robert Whiteby Robert White

Australian coach Darren Lehmann is confident skipper Michael Clarke will play a role in Australia’s ICC World Cup campaign on home soil later this month.

Tired of the talk scrutinising the fitness of his beleaguered captain, who has been hampered by hamstring and back issues in recent months, Lehmann is ready for Clarke to silence his doubters. That chance may come sooner than anticipated as 33-year-old prepares to face Bangladesh on Thursday in a one-day practice match with the Cricket Australia XI side at Brisbane’s Allan Border Field.

“I’m sick of it,” Lehmann said in a radio interview on Wednesday. “I’m looking forward to him coming back.

“He played grade (club) cricket on the weekend which is great, he’s playing up here on Thursday so I’ll get to have a look at him,” he added. “I had a good chat to him and he pulled up really well from the grade game. He’s ahead of schedule and I think he’s said that in the press as well.”

The inexperience of interim Test captain Steve Smith and the recent lacklustre form of ODI skipper George Bailey has led to media-derived mumblings dissecting Australia’s World Cup leadership, a non-issue according to Lehmann.

“I don’t know why we’re worried about leaders too much,” Lehmann said in Brisbane. “At the end of the day, we know he (Clarke) is going to be right to go.

“We’re really confident in that, and he’s confident – that’s more important. We need him playing and playing well … and leading well. He’s ahead of schedule … he plays tomorrow, he gets through that no dramas, another box ticked and away we go.”

An active Clarke was seen smashing his way around an unconventional Wednesday net session where the 238-match ODI veteran moved to wielding a baseball bat after making light work of the bowling attack.

The veteran believes he is making steady progress, however is also tired the discussions involving his health.

“I am sick of saying it but it really is one day at a time,” Clarke told reporters.

”I feel like I’m improving slowly every single day.

”The medical staff dictate how hard I can push but I think everyone is really happy at the moment.”

Australia kicks off its World Cup campaign against England at the MCG on Saturday, February 14 before facing Bangladesh, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Scotland in Pool A action.

Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images.