Michael Clarke dismisses speculation of Cricket Australian rifts

Reports in the Sydney Morning Herald said Clarke had clashed with the national selectors

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The Independent Online

As Australia took the field against England in Perth this morning for the final of the Tri-Series, their captain Michael Clarke shrugged off speculation of rifts with Cricket Australia and his team-mates as he returned from injury.

The 33-year-old batsman made a successful comeback in a club game yesterday, two weeks before Australia meet England in their first match of the World Cup on home soil.

Clarke, who underwent surgery to cure a hamstring problem he sustained during the Test series against India in December, made 51 on his return for side Western Suburbs against Gordon.

Reports in the Sydney Morning Herald said Clarke had clashed with the national selectors over the deadline they had given him in order to prove his availability for the global showpiece.

Even if he did return to full fitness, the newspaper reported that his team-mates had turned their back on the captain in favour of his stand-in for Test cricket, Steve Smith – who enjoyed a remarkable 2014 with the bat culminating in all three player of the year awards last week.

But Clarke, who has garnered a reputation for seeking out the celebrity lifestyle – in marked contrast to the single-minded Smith, insisted that there had been no problems. “I’m not going to get into it. It seems like some people in particular are going to write what they’re going to write,” Clarke said.

“I’m really happy and comfortable with my relationship with Cricket Australia firstly, certainly with my team-mates, so whatever. It’s water off a duck’s back for me.

“I’ve copped it my whole career so it’s another day, another newspaper sold. My job is to get fit and healthy and I can’t wait to get back and play for Australia again.”

Clarke, who has been plagued by hamstring trouble, has been given until Australia’s second World Cup match against Bangladesh on 21 February to prove he is fit to play a part in the tournament, though he was named in the 15-man squad.

The combative captain is optimistic that he will be back in charge. “I’m certainly ahead of where the surgeon and the Australian medical staff thought I’d be at the six-and-a-half week stage,” Clarke said. “The fact I’m back on the field playing is a really positive sign. I think the experts are saying I’m a good week and a half ahead of schedule but it’s one day at a time for me.