Cricket: Clarke hopeful of playing in Boxing Day test

Michael Clarke. Photo / Getty Images
Michael Clarke. Photo / Getty Images

Australian captain Michael Clarke begins an intensive campaign to get himself fit for the Boxing Day Test after picking up a hamstring strain in the first Test victory over Sri Lanka.

Clarke suffered the twinge while batting in Australia's second innings but took his place at slip as the home side dismissed the Sri Lankans for 255 to win by 137.

The prolific Clarke is in a race against time to prove his fitness and have the chance to better Ricky Ponting's record of 1544 Test runs in a calendar year.

The Australian skipper needs another 55 runs to equal Ponting's record, set in 2005.

"I know I'm in great hands with (team physio) Alex (Kountouris) and I know how great a physio he is," Clarke said.

"And I know how good my physio back in Sydney is that I'll be using over the next couple of days.

"Obviously my preparation will be a little bit different to the lead-up to this Test match but I've done a fair bit of batting throughout the summer so I'm confident."

Clarke said his scans were "positive" and the injury is minor but former Test No.3 Usman Khawaja has been placed on standby.

Missing from Australia's 12-man squad will be swing bowler Ben Hilfenhaus, who has a side strain he suffered at Bellerive.

Tasmanian medium-pacer Jackson Bird, the Sheffield Shield's leading wicket-taker, has been called into the squad.

Clarke said Australia were starting to heed the lessons from their 1-0 series loss to South Africa.

"There's no doubt we've learned a lot from the South Africa series," he said.

"Having the extra bowler today compared to Adelaide played a big part.

"Watto (Shane Watson) bowled 27 overs - I would have loved those overs in Adelaide."

Australia lead the three-Test series against Sri Lanka 1-0 with matches in Melbourne and Sydney to come.

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