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Clarke faces 10 weeks out ahead of Ashes

Daniel Brettig
March 26, 2013 « Tiger spies improvements in his game | Chartbeat test »
Michael Clarke's back and hamstring problems need rest ahead of the Ashes © Getty Images
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Australia's captain Michael Clarke will take much-needed rest at home, rather than taking up his likely appointment as captain of the Pune Warriors in the IPL, as the best remedy for the back and hamstring problems that bedevilled his India tour.

Clarke underwent scans soon after his arrival in Sydney and ESPNcricinfo understands these showed that his back trouble was caused not by any new source but the same degenerative disc that has afflicted him since his teenage years.

Complaints of hamstring discomfort were also assessed, with no evidence found of a new injury, rather the accumulated wear of carrying a tender muscle through the tour after he strained it during the home Test series against Sri Lanka.

As a result of these dual problems, Clarke has been advised to rest and then train to strengthen his body rather than linking up with the Warriors. It has been reported that Clarke may be offered as much as A$2 million to lead the IPL franchise after Yuvraj Singh expressed reluctance to be captain, but the risk of fouling up an Ashes campaign that may define his captaincy has been deemed too acute.

"Michael Clarke had scans that confirmed his current lower back injury is an exacerbation of previous issues he has had with his spine," Cricket Australia Chief Medical Officer Justin Paoloni said. "As always, we need to manage this carefully as there are potentially serious consequences with further aggravation.

"He still has pain with basic activities and is not back to full function as yet. He also has a hamstring injury that has been a concern for most of the summer and will complicate his return.

"Michael is having intensive rehabilitation for both his back and hamstring but is still 7-10 weeks away from returning to training and playing. We are confident that it will not affect his Ashes preparation but will know more over the coming weeks."

On his early return to Sydney following his inability to regain fitness in time for the fourth Test of an ignominious series on the subcontinent, Clarke said he would "listen to the experts" regarding his battered and fatigued body and his IPL participation.

"I'll have scans this week and spend plenty of time with the physio, fingers crossed it turns out okay," Clarke said. "Sitting down for 12 hours has made it a little bit stiff, but I'm really confident that I'm in good hands with my physio here in Sydney.

"I'd be silly to make that decision [on the IPL] right now, I think I need to wait on the results, listen to the experts and then make a plan from there. I've had my back issues since I was 17 years of age so this is no different. In regards to my hamstring I hurt it throughout the Australian summer and it has just lingered on. I haven't had the opportunity to get that 100% fit due to how much cricket we've had."

The national team's coach Mickey Arthur, the national selector John Inverarity and the team performance manager Pat Howard have no formal right to bar a player from participating in the IPL, as the tournament's span has been defined by Cricket Australia as a leave period. However they are likely to privately advise various players of their preferences, as was done last year when Shane Watson was counselled to stay out of the event.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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