Australia have named injured skipper Michael Clarke in their squad for the 2015 Cricket World Cup that begins in Australia and New Zealand in March.
There were very few surprises in the squad picked by Australian selections and the majority of speculation ahead of the side being released centered around the fitness of Clarke, who suffered another hamstring injury during the first test between Australia and India at the end of last year.
National selector Rod Marsh said at the squad announcement that Clarke would be given every possible opportunity to prove his fitness ahead of Australia’s opening World Cup game with England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on February 14, but revealed that Clarke would be replaced if he does not take his place in the side for their clash against Bangladesh in Brisbane on February 21.
“Captain Michael Clarke will lead our World Cup campaign should he recover from his injury,” Marsh said.
He is one of the world’s best batsmen and we want to give him every chance to prove his fitness for a tournament as important as this one.
“Our medical staff are pleased with his progress following hamstring surgery in December and he continues to undergo thorough rehabilitation work with a view to being ready to play an important role in the World Cup.
“We have said that if Michael has not recovered by our second match of the tournament against Bangladesh on 21 February, we will replace him in the squad.
“He understands that and is working tirelessly with medical staff to get back to fitness.”
The Australian batting at the 2015 Cricket World Cup will be spearheaded by in-form Test Captain Steve Smith, the explosive David Warner and Twenty/20 Captain Aaron Finch, while the out of form George Bailey maintains his place and will captain the side if Clarke is ruled out due to injury.
Selectors are hoping that the polarizing Glenn Maxwell, injury-plagued Mitchell Marsh, James Faulkner and Shane Watson can contribute with both bat and ball; with Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc selected as fast bowlers.
Brad Haddin is the only wicketkeeper in the squad and Tasmanian Xavier Doherty beat out the likes of Nathan Lyon, Ashton Agar, James Murihead and Cameron Boyce for the one specialist spinner place in the side.
“This group has played a major role in getting Australia back to number one in ODI cricket and we feel we have the right mix of players to represent our country on the biggest stage of all,” Marsh said.
“These players have really gelled over the past 18 months with their preparation geared towards giving us the best chance of winning a World Cup on home soil.”
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