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Michael Clarke out of Australia's World Cup opener against England

Australia coach Darren Lehmann on Thursday confirmed captain Michael Clarke is on track to return against Bangladesh, but has ruled him out of Saturday's ICC World Cup opener against England here.

Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke returns

Melbourne, Feb 12 (IANS) Australia coach Darren Lehmann on Thursday confirmed captain Michael Clarke is on track to return against Bangladesh, but has ruled him out of Saturday's ICC World Cup opener against England here.

Clarke top scored with 64, bowled a couple of overs and fielded during Wednesday's warm-up game against the United Arab Emirates. Lehmann noted the 33-year-old pulled up "really well" and was "very keen" to play against England

However, Lehmann, Australian selectors, team medical staff and Clarke came to the conclusion that February 21 would be a more sensible return date for the captain.

"He's very keen to play. But we've got to make sure when he gets back he's ready to go and he will be, come Saturday next week," Lehmann was quoted as saying by The Australian.

"Everyone was sitting around talking about it and making sure we make the right decision. He just had a chat. He's respectful of what we're trying to do to get him right. We would have loved to have him available for this first game, but we're making sure he's 100 percent ready to go for Bangladesh."

Clarke completed fielding drills after the match, then again on Thursday morning.

"He has a few tests today to do but he'll pass those no dramas," Lehmann said. "It's making sure he gets into the fielding side of it in the next week and just ticks that off. We're going to stick with the plan and he'll play against Bangladesh."

A month ago, chief selector Rod Marsh nominated February 21 as Clarke's final fitness deadline with the veteran to be dropped from the squad if he is not up to scratch then. Clarke was initially given little hope of being fit in time, but has exceeded expectations in his recovery from hamstring surgery.

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