SYDNEY (Reuters) - Injured Australia captain Michael Clarke is back in the nets and could return to competitive action by the end of the month in a major boost to the hosts before the start of the Ashes series on November 21.
The 32-year-old batsman, who has suffered from a recurring lower back problem for several years, was left out of the ongoing one-day tour of India to rest up before the visit of England.
"Michael is progressing well and recently recommenced batting in the nets," team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said in a Cricket Australia news release on Thursday.
"At this stage we are aiming to have him fit to play the second round of the Sheffield Shield, but we have not ruled out the possibility of him playing the first round of the Shield season if he makes better than expected progress."
Clarke's New South Wales play Tasmania in the first round of the domestic Sheffield Shield competition from October 30 to November 2. Their second round fixture is against Victoria and commences on November 6.
England, who won the first Ashes encounter of the year 3-0 to retain the urn for a third successive series, are scheduled to arrive in Perth in the early hours of Friday morning.
The first test takes place at the Gabba in Brisbane before further matches in Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)