Tuesday, 18 June 2013, 09:57pm
Clarke recovery continues in London
Clarke is increasingly optimistic that he will be fully-recovered from his back problem in time for the start of the Ashes next month, and is hoping to make his return in Australia's tour match against Somerset at Taunton on June 26.
He will remain in the capital, however, until Australia's Ashes squad officially assembles on June 24 - along with James Faulkner, Mitchell Starc, Shane Watson, Chris Rogers and the banned David Warner. Batsman Phil Hughes and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade are the two members of Australia's unsuccessful Champions Trophy touring party who will join the A squad in the west country.
Australia were eliminated from the Champions Trophy with a 20-run defeat to Sri Lanka at the Kia Oval.
Clarke has missed all three of Australia's Champions Trophy games due to a back injury he suffered during his team's 4-0 defeat in India, but it looks like the skipper will be fit to play at Taunton in the first of two pre-Ashes warm-up games.
"I would imagine he would be fit for that game," said George Bailey, who stood in for Clarke as skipper for the Champions Trophy. "There was a real chance that (Clarke) would have been fit for the Sri Lanka game but with the circumstances of the game, he did not play."
Clarke has had to watch on from the sidelines as his team went through almost the worst possible preparation for the series against England.
Alastair Cook's men drew first blood in the battle between the two old enemies, defeating Australia by 48 runs in their Champions Trophy opener. The Australians were then unable to beat New Zealand - thanks to the weather - and they could not beat Sri Lanka in south London on Monday night.
"There is probably not a great deal of confidence there," Bailey said, tellingly.
"We said at the start that you need to start the competition well in order to get your confidence up so losing to England was a major cock-up. The weather then played its part unfortunately, that was a bit of bad luck because we posted a good score (before rain stopped play against New Zealand) but that's part of the game I guess. There's not much more we could have done."
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Michael Clarke believes he will be back in time for the Ashes