Arthur worried about 'injury-stricken' Clarke's chances for Champions Trophy, Ashes

Sydney, June 6 (ANI): Australian coach Mickey Arthur has admitted that he is worried about the latest flare-up of captain Michael Clarke's back injury, which has put him in doubt for the first game of the ICC Champions Trophy against England and has worrying implications for the Ashes.

Clarke has missed Australia's two Champions Trophy warm-up games, the second of which brought Australia's batting woes back to the surface as they were thrashed for 243 runs by India in Cardiff, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Although acting captain George Bailey was optimistic about Clarke's chances of playing in Australia's opening Champions Trophy match on Saturday, Arthur, however, admitted that the team's captain and best batsman would have to be handled with immense care over the coming months.

But Arthur denied that the recurring injury would threaten Clarke's career, saying that he is confident that they will have Clarke firing in the eight-nation tournament for Australia and then into the Ashes, adding that they will have to manage Clarke very carefully and keep him on the ground so as to retain his longetivity.

According to the report, the back problem has dogged Clarke as far back as Australia's 2005 Ashes tour, but it had not caused him to miss a Test until the recent disastrous tour of India.

However, Bailey was more optimistic, having said that Clarke's absence is precautionary as he had some stiffness in his back, adding that they did not risk him in the warm-up games keeping in mind the big summer of cricket ahead of them.

However, Bailey said that he hoped that Clarke is fit enough to play on Saturday, adding that it will be a big blow for the team if he is not available as he is the best batsman in the team, along with being the captain.

The first Test at Trent Bridge begins on July 10, and there are doubts about the captain's ability to withstand the physical strain of 10 consecutive Ashes fixtures. The experienced Brad Haddin was recently installed as his Test deputy, the report added. (ANI)

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