It started off as a little tweak, but Michael Clarke’s hamstring woes are threatening to create a worrying void in the Australian Test team.
Clarke’s summer plans are up in the air after he re-injured his left hamstring during last week’s one-day win over South Africa – his third such setback since August.
Early scans have been inconclusive, with the 33-year-old to visit more specialists this week to determine the best course of action to take.
Speaking to the Nine Network, Clarke admitted experts were still working out the extent of the injury.
“My scans are complicated because you can obviously see where I have had damage in the past so they are trying to work out what’s damage from the past and what’s new damage,” Clarke said.
“If it takes them a day, if it takes them a week – I’ll just be guided by their expertise.”
Cricket Australia boss Pat Howard says surgery remains an option for Clarke, while an extended period of rest and rehabilitation is another avenue the star batsman will explore.
With next year’s World Cup and an Ashes series in England the priorities, Clarke appears increasingly likely to miss the entire four-Test series against India, starting in Brisbane on December 4.
While there were suggestions he could give up the 50-over game to prolong his career, Clarke made it clear it wasn’t an option for him at this stage saying he intended “to play every game I can for Australia in both forms of the game.”
Clarke’s potential absence against India would heap huge pressure on a batting line-up that failed dismally during a 2-0 Test series drubbing to Pakistan in the UAE.
Opener Chris Rogers enters the summer calendar struggling for form, the No.3 spot remains up for grabs after Alex Doolan and Glenn Maxwell couldn’t grasp their chance in the UAE, while all-rounder Mitch Marsh is new to the scene and still finding his feet.
Fitness permitting, wicketkeeper Brad Haddin will assume the captaincy for the first Test against India.
But Clarke’s astute leadership will be sorely missed, with his likely absence having the potential to destabilise a Test team still striving for consistency.
Coach Darren Lehmann was keen to make some decisions as soon as possible.
“I just want to know whether he’s in or he’s out,” Lehmann said.
“For us it’s a case of making sure we get him back playing as quick as he can, and fully fit.
“At the moment, he’s captain of Australia and if he’s fit to play and gets through the next little bit, then hopefully he’ll front up in the first Test.”
Haddin hasn’t played since injuring his shoulder during the recent Test series loss to Pakistan, but the 37-year-old is on track to make his return in NSW’s Sheffield Shield clash with South Australia in Sydney, starting November 25.
One-day vice-captain George Bailey is desperate for Clarke to return to 100 per cent fitness in time for next year’s World Cup.
“I’ll be there to massage him, I’ll get him through,” Bailey said with a laugh.
“It’s big shoes to fill (if he’s not there). He’s one of the best batsmen in the world.”
Lehmann dismissed any concerns rising star Mitchell Marsh had re-injured a hamstring during his valiant knock of 67 in Sunday’s one-day loss to South Africa.