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Clarke could have played England – Warne

February 13th, 2015 | by admin
Clarke could have played England – Warne

Shane Warne believes Michael Clarke is fitter than he has been for five years and should have been picked for Australia’s World Cup opener against England on Saturday. Clarke has been ruled out of the game as he continues his recovery from hamstring surgery, though he is expected to return to the side for next Saturday’s game against Bangladesh at the Gabba.

Australia have many match-winnners – Warne

Shane Warne believes Australia have never entered a World Cup with as many potential match-winners as in 2015. “We’ve been favourites a few times,” he said. “But … I can’t remember going into a World Cup with Australia having so many match-winners. There’s probably seven or eight guys who on their own could turn the course of a game no matter what. If you look around the other teams they’ve got two or three or maybe four.”

Australia enter their opening match against England at the MCG having won 13 of their past 15 ODIs against England in Australia. But, despite the talent, Warne said that record would mean little, given the pressure and expectations are vastly different from a bilateral or tri-series. “I don’t think that previous games and history comes into a World Cup tournament. Your mindset changes a little bit in a World Cup. It’s like ‘what happens if we lose to these guys?’ There’s a bit of a fear of not doing that well. But I think the Australian guys are in pretty good form, they’re pretty relaxed. I’ve spoken to most of the guys, the vibe is good in the team.”

Clarke played in a warm-up match against the UAE in Melbourne on Wednesday; he top scored with 64, bowled two overs, fielded throughout the innings, and took part in further one-on-one fielding drills after the game. But the Australian management decided not to risk rushing Clarke back for the England game ahead of his intended return against Bangladesh.

“I think he’s just ready to go,” Warne said at a promotional event in Melbourne. “Obviously the physios and everybody planned a certain path for Michael, they said ‘right this is the eight-week period, you need to do this and need to do that’. They’ve basically tried to break him. They’ve tried to break him with his fitness tests, they’ve tried to break him in all parts of it.

“To see him come through with flying colours and be fitter than he’s ever been for at least three to five years, he reckons, being that fit at the moment, he knows deep down now that he’s done. There’s nothing more that he can do. He’s done everything, he’s ready to go. I’m expecting some big things from him. He’s pretty hungry at the moment to play.”

When Warne says Australia “tried to break” Clarke, presumably he means it in a positive way, pushing Clarke to the limits to ensure he would not break down in a match. That is understandable, for Clarke has broken down in each of his past two ODIs, as well as his most recent Test. But Warne, a close friend of Clarke, believes Australia’s captain has many years left in him.

“Some of the stuff I’ve been reading – you’d think he is 45. He’s only 33,” Warne said. “I think he can still play for a long time. I think that’s what they want, they want to make sure he’s okay. Stick to the program and then he’s got longevity, he’ll make the whole tournament and go on. He’ll play West Indies, the Ashes and keep going until he’s had enough. Hopefully that’s five years’ time because we need him out there.

“He’s such a good player. You think back over the last few years, how well he’s done when the side wasn’t playing well. Let alone when it’s just started to come well under his captaincy. I think he’ll be hurting not playing this game. He’ll be itching. It’ll probably make him hungrier to play.”

Warne said it was remarkable that Clarke was even in contention for this game, given the severity of the hamstring injury that he sustained during the Adelaide Test in December. Warne compared Clarke’s recovery to that of AFL footballer Nick Riewoldt, who had suffered a similar injury and took much longer to return to action than Clarke.

“For me it’s testament to Michael Clarke and his endeavors, how passionate he is about the game and how much he loves playing for Australia,” Warne said. “For four to five hours of doing that work every single day, to get himself right.

“I spoke to Nick Riewoldt last night and he had a similar injury with his hamstring and I think he was gone for 14 weeks. To show that he’s basically six weeks ahead of schedule – to someone like Nick Riewoldt who is an elite athlete. He was a little bit worse, but pretty similar. It just shows how hard he’s worked to get back.”

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