Aussies hoping to have Clarke fit for first Test
WHILE Shaun Marsh continues to train as cover for skipper Michael Clarke, Australian coach Darren Lehmann said he remained confident his team leader would take the field for the first Test against India in Adelaide, starting on Tuesday.
Clarke flew in to Adelaide yesterday after spending extra time in Macksville, following the tragic death of Phillip Hughes from a bouncer last week.
The captain, who received high praise for his support of the Hughes family during the ordeal, raised hopes he could overcome his ongoing hamstring complaint in time to face the Indians by completing a sprint session at the SCG before heading to Adelaide.
He is expected to bat in the Adelaide Oval nets this afternoon, giving him three days to prove his fitness. Despite the mental and physical challenges thrown in the path of the 107-Test veteran, Lehmann said special exceptions would be made to try to get Clarke out on the field on Tuesday.
"We'll have him here batting and see how he goes," Lehmann said. "As long as he can do the running and bat at the level he needs to, he'll be fine. We want him playing, as simple as that."
The coach said his troops had had to ramp up their preparations quickly following Wednesday's funeral, echoing Clarke's words from the eulogy that it was time to "play on".
"It's never been dealt with before, so it's going to be a big challenge for us," Lehmann said. "But having said that, we're getting out there to play some cricket, and that's the key for everyone.
"Now it's a case of rallying around each other, and getting on with what we do, and that's playing some cricket.
"But Sunday and Monday I expect them to be going 100%.
"Hughesy would want us to do that as well."
Lehmann said his players were holding together well despite the passing of their great mate, and that getting back on to the field was an important part of them moving on with their lives.
"They're not too bad. I'm sure they're going to be fine," he said.
Lehmann was deeply affected by the death of his great mate and Australian batsman David Hookes in early 2004, but Victorian coach Greg Shipperd, who took over from Hookes in charge of the Bushrangers, said the passing of Hookes had brought his players together.
"These sort of events tend to galvanise people as we saw in
2003-04. It really galvanised the Victorian team and we went on to win (the Sheffield Shield) that particular season," Shipperd said.