Clarke takes first steps
Michael Clarke bowled, fielded and then batted with increasing fluency at Allan Border Field on Thursday to take a major step towards being passed fit to captain Australia in their second World Cup match against Bangladesh on February 21 at the Gabba.
Playing against those same Bangladesh opponents for a Cricket Australia Invitational XI, Clarke showed a fuller range of movement than some had expected, even bowling two overs of left-arm spin after the visitors batted first.
Clarke said he was satisfied with his progress, though admitted he was still some way away from reaching the fitness level required for the full intensity of a World Cup match.
"I've been bowling for the last three weeks in the nets, so the skipper needed a couple of overs so he asked if I was happy to bowl and I was certainly happy to," Clarke said. "In my opinion I think there's probably still a gap between where I am now and playing an ODI for Australia, but the fortunate thing is I have plenty of time to close that gap."
Down in Melbourne, Clarke's fellow World Cup squad member Aaron Finch was enthused by the prospect of the captain's return.
"Michael's been a quality performer for a long time in all formats of the game. To have someone as skilled as him with the bat, but also his tactical nous will be important as well," Finch said. "I don't think it makes much difference to the players, we've played under them all. Michael has done an unbelievable job for a long time, so has George in one-day cricket, and Steve is just starting out in his captaincy career.