Michael Clarke a doubt for ODI series decider


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The Independent Online

Australia captain Michael Clarke is doubtful for Monday's ODI series decider with England in Southampton after suffering a recurrence of his chronic back problem.

The touring side have already been forced into making one change for the fixture after Shaun Marsh injured his hamstring fielding on the boundary in the last match at Cardiff, with Phil Hughes his suggested replacement.

However with the series poised at 1-1 with a game to play, the loss of their captain and best batsman would be a big blow, but coach Darren Lehmann indicated Clarke would only play if fully fit.

"It's a big game. But if he's not right, we won't risk him," said Lehmann.

"It's an important series, but we've got another one-day series (against India) and an Ashes series coming up."

The Australian coach also indicated that Hughes would indeed come in for the injured Marsh:

"We'll look at the pitch, but I think that's the probably the way we'd go.

"It gives him an opportunity. He's playing really well and working on his game, and that's all we can ask.

"He's ready to go. We hope he gets his chance and away he goes."

If required, Clarke's replacement would be less straightforward with the possibility of Glenn Maxwell playing for the first time in the series or a recall for Fawad Ahmed.

After a disappointing summer for Australia, tomorrow's game give them the chance to end the tour positively, something that is not lost on Lehmann.

"It gets down to a grand final set-up now - which is great.

"That's what we want the players put under most of the time, although you would have loved to close out the series (in Cardiff).

"We're certainly playing the right brand of cricket. We just made a couple of elementary mistakes.

"Apart from that, we've pretty much played how we want to play.

"Now the case is we want to finish on a high and get moving on."