Cricket: Injured Clarke confident of taking pitch for second test

By Steve Larkin

Michael Clarke is likely to be training today. Photo / AP
Michael Clarke is likely to be training today. Photo / AP

Australia insist captain Michael Clarke will overcome an ankle injury and play in the second Ashes test as allrounder Shane Watson prepares to shoulder a greater bowling burden.

Clarke didn't train at Adelaide Oval yesterday, a day after rolling his right ankle during fielding drills.

But the Australian camp say their skipper is a certain starter against England in the test starting tomorrow.

"It's more precautionary today," said Watson. "Obviously Michael batted beautifully in the first test as well, so his preparation was always going to be very good anyway. I know the medical staff and Michael are very confident." He said Clarke would be training "flat out" today ready to go for tomorrow.

Watson wants more bowling duties on a predicted flat Adelaide pitch in a bid to shield Australia's fast bowling ranks from burn-out with just a three-day turnaround for the third test in Perth.

"The wicket is going to be flat, the bowlers are potentially going to have to bowl many more overs compared to Brisbane to be able to bowl the English out," Watson said. "So there is no doubt I know that is a really important role [for me], especially with back-to-back test matches as well, and how important it is for our quicks to be able to get through this test match and bowl well, and also pull up well.

"Because Perth, we certainly know we have got the bowlers to be able to really exploit that Perth wicket as well."

Watson overcame a hamstring injury to play in Australia's series-opening triumph in Brisbane, but bowled just two overs as the tourists were skittled for 136 and 179.

"The bowlers certainly looked after me physically in the first test, I wasn't really called on to bowl," he said. "But I know this is my turn to put my hand up."

Watson returned with his injury from Australia's limited overs tour of India, and had no longer-form cricket leading into the first test - a factor he blamed for his meagre batting returns of 22 and six.

"I'm certainly going to be in a better place now after just getting through that one game," he said. "Unfortunately [I was] not being able to concentrate for a long enough period of time to be able to bat for what I need to in a test match.

"Certainly it was unfortunate that I wasn't able to adapt my game quick enough with not playing any four-day cricket or domestic cricket in the lead-up."

- AAP

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