REUTERS - Australia captain Michael Clarke continued his push to prove his fitness ahead of the cricket World Cup by bowling two overs and fielding in multiple positions in a warm-up match against Bangladesh on Thursday.
The 33-year-old has until Australia’s second match of the tournament, against Bangladesh on Feb. 21, to prove his fitness after surgery on a torn hamstring.
He played a club game in Sydney at the weekend and then turned out for the Cricket Australia XI against the Bangladeshis at Allan Border Field in Brisbane on Thursday.
Clarke had expected to play just a limited part in the game, but bowled two overs of his left arm spin and was fielding in the slips and on the boundary.
His hamstring was well tested as he took a low catch in the slips to dismiss Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan and spent two hours in total on the field.
He also returned to bat and made 34 from 36 balls, including six fours, and looked in no discomfort.
“In my opinion, there’s still a gap between where I am now and playing a one-day international for Australia,” Clarke, who will head to Adelaide on Friday to join the rest of the Australian squad, told reporters.
”But the fortunate thing is I’ve got plenty of time to close that gap. I‘m trying to get fit and healthy as soon as possible, and then the experts will make those decisions.
“I would have liked a few more runs but it’s been nice. I’ve just got a bit more treatment now but I’ve pulled up pretty well.”
Fitness has not been the only issue for Clarke, with Australian media reporting he could lose the captaincy to either stand-in George Bailey or test skipper Steve Smith.
Coach Darren Lehmann and Clarke have both said in recent days it was not an issue, while opening batsman Aaron Finch added the team would not have a problem following any of the three men at the Feb. 14-March 29 tournament.
“I don’t think it makes much difference to the players - we’ve played under them all,” Finch told reporters in Melbourne earlier on Thursday.
”Michael has done an unbelievable job for a long time and so has George in one-day cricket.
”Steve is just starting out in his captaincy career - I suppose it’s important that we don’t let it distract us.
“From the players’ point of view, I don’t think it will.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington and Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Patrick Johnston