Australia announce World Cup squad: Michael Clarke racing against time to play as captain
Australia have announced the 15-man squad that will be seeking to win their fifth ICC Cricket World Cup when their campaign gets underway with a Pool A group match against England on 14th Fenruary in Melbourne. Michael Clarke, currently racing against time to recover from a hamstring injury, has been named skipper.
Clarke has been given until the the second group match against Bangladesh on February 21 to prove his fitness, failing which vice-captain George Bailey will take on the big role.
"Captain Michael Clarke will lead our World Cup campaign should he recover from his injury," said Chief National Selector Rod Marsh.
"He is one of the world’s best batsmen and we want to give him every chance to prove his fitness for a tournament as important as this one.
"Our medical staff are pleased with his progress following the hamstring surgery in December and he continues to undergo thorough rehabilitation work with a view to being ready to play an important role in the World Cup.
Michael Clarke has said, I'll have my work cut out to prove my fitness. It won't be through a lack of effort but I'm confident I will be fit.”
No stand-by has been named for Clarke, but Shaun Marsh is a clear favourite. Marsh came into Australia's Test team when Clarke was ruled out through injury after the first Test against India in Adelaide.
Lyon and Harris left out
Xavier Doherty has been preferred as the squad’s specialist spinner over the Test team's No.1 spinner Nathan Lyon. Josh Hazlewood, the 24-year-old quick who has burst onto the stage in the concluded Test series against India, has been given the nod ahead of the veteran Ryan Harris.
"Xavier is a reliable spin bowler who we know can perform well in the 50-over format," said Marsh. "We also have other spin options in Glenn Maxwell , Steve Smith and Michael Clarke if required."
Marsh said that Ryan Harris’s fitness was always a concern: “He's so important to our Test side & we'd love to see him go to England. He understands why he hasn't been picked.”
The squad: Michael Clarke (c), George Bailey (v), Pat Cummins, Xavier Doherty, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson.