Australia captain Michael Clarke says he has “no idea” if he will be able to face England in the looming Ashes series due to his longstanding back problem.
Clarke, not only Australia’s skipper but also their best batsman, has just over six weeks to prepare himself for England’s visit. However, he revealed his physio has serious doubts, per Chris Barrett of the Sydney Morning Herald:
There is certainly no guarantee at this stage. It's hard for me to say that because I'm trying my best not to look at it like that. I'm always positive. If you ask me I'll say, "Oh, I'll be fit in a week's time.” But if you ask [Australian physio] Alex [Kountouris], who knows me very well, I'd imagine he'd certainly say that there's doubt that I won't be right.
Where I sit right now is I don't know when I'll be back playing cricket. We have no idea how long it's going to take.
Michael Clarke admits he is under a cloud for first Ashes Test, while James Pattinson may miss the whole series http://t.co/WpHFdPfBJH— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) October 3, 2013
England are already deemed favourites by Sky Bet to retain the famous urn during the winter, but their position will become significantly stronger if Australia lose their talisman.
No Australian posted a higher average than Clarke (47.62) in the recent series, per Cricinfo, and only Shane Watson scored more runs.
Undoubtedly the leader of the Australian side, Clarke’s 187 in the third Test was one of few highlights for the visitors during the tour, demonstrating that they do have what it takes to get on top of England’s bowlers.
Already Clarke has been ruled out of the limited-overs series in India, so his recovery target is November 21—the first Test against England at the Gabba.
If he can recover, there is no reason why he cannot complete a full series, having dealt with the degenerative back complaint since his teenage years.
Can Australia win the Ashes without Clarke?
The 32-year-old will pass the 100-Test barrier during the Ashes series if he plays three of the five encounters. He can also pass 8,000 runs if he hits form.
England will be sure to rough up the Australian skipper when he does step up to the crease. The tourists picked an aggressive bowling unit featuring a bunch of tall slingers, including Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, Chris Tremlett and Boyd Rankin.
That quartet can all hit the pitch hard and lure any bounce from flat Australian wickets, so Clarke can expect the odd short ball to test how his back has recovered.