Australia’s injured Test captain Michael Clarke is making progress in his bid to play in the series against Pakistan in October.
Australia captain Michael Clarke remains on track to play in the first Test against Pakistan beginning on October 22, despite being ruled out of the preceding one-day series.
However team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris says the 33-year-old Clarke is managing ongoing back and hamstring issues and his current tendon problem can take longer than a normal hamstring injury to heal.
Clarke felt a tight hamstring during a light recovery session after arriving in Zimbabwe for Australia’s series of one-day internationals against South Africa and the hosts.
The skipper scored an unbeaten 68 in Australia’s loss to Zimbabwe in the ODI game in Harare on August 31, before being sent home for treatment.
“We think the time frames to play the first Test are realistic,” Kountouris told reporters on Wednesday.
“Things are going on track and he’s likely to be okay and available for that series.
“If we wait for the second Test … whatever we wait for it’s going to be a risk.”
Kountouris said CA was unable to determine if the tendon damage was done during the initial recovery session or on August 31.
Scans showed Clarke has a “reasonable-sized” muscle injury.
“But importantly he actually has some tendon involvement, which from what we’ve learnt over the last five or 10 years, a lot of it has come out of the AFL, these injuries tend to take a long time,” Kountouris said.
Clarke is set to resume jogging this week.
Brad Haddin will replace Clarke as Australia’s captain in the Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates if Clarke is ruled out.
Phil Hughes has been called into the national squad as the replacement batsman for Clarke for the ODI series against Pakistan in early October.
Kountouris says Clarke will be tested with some high-intensity running in another two or three weeks.
“That’s why he’s out of the one-dayers because we don’t think it’s safe for him to try going any harder than what he’s going to in the next couple of weeks,” Kountouris said.
“Tendons, unlike muscles, they take a bit longer to heal. They don’t have the same rich blood supply and take longer and they’re also … more prone to recurrence.
“Whilst we don’t know exactly the link between the back and the hamstring, it’s certainly a factor and it predisposes him to these sorts of things.
“We’re trying to manage the back and the hamstring at the same time.”
Clarke may be tempted to step away from short-form cricket after the 2015 World Cup in February-March in Australia and New Zealand.
But Kountouris says Test cricket can be just as demanding.
“It is an explosive injury,” Kountouris said.
“In one-day cricket you may need to do it more often than in Test cricket.
“If he’s continuing to get runs in Test cricket, then I think he’ll still be at risk.
“I wouldn’t be advising him to retire from a form of the game because of this type of injury.”