Injured Clarke out of opening Zimbabwe cricket clash

Tristan Holme
Australia's Mitchell Johnson during a training session ahead of the tri-series between Australia, South Africa and hosts Zimbabwe in Harare on August 23, 2014
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Australia's Mitchell Johnson during a training session ahead of the tri-series between Australia, South Africa and hosts Zimbabwe in Harare on August 23, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jekesai Njikizana)

Harare (AFP) - Australian captain Michael Clarke was Monday ruled out of the team's triangular series opener against Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club with a hamstring injury.

Clarke tweaked his left hamstring during Australia's first training session on Friday, but jogged several laps on Saturday to lend hope that he may recover in time.

But coach Darren Lehmann said he was not fit enough to take part in Monday's game.

"Michael had a fitness test at training and unfortunately hasn't come through that well enough to be available for selection in game one," he said in a statement.

"He will continue intensive treatment on his hamstring and we'll monitor his progress ahead of game two on Wednesday."

George Bailey will assume the captaincy for the first game of the two-week tri-series that also involves South Africa.

Although Lehmann was yet to identify his preferred bowling attack for the game, he confirmed that it would be led by left-arm fast bowlers Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc.

"They swing the ball and one is very fast and the other one is fast, so they're definitely going to play," Lehmann said.

"Otherwise we've got some pretty good young kids as well, so it's going to be a good attack."

After using 16 players during a three-match ODI series against South Africa in Bulawayo this week, Zimbabwe coach Stephen Mangongo believes he will be better placed to field a side that can be competitive.

Zimbabwe's selections at times appeared haphazard and reactionary, with the decision to drop leading batsman Brendan Taylor for the third game the most controversial, but Mangongo defended the home side's decisions in the 3-0 series defeat.

"We are quite close to knowing what our team will be like," he said. "It was very important for us to get a look at a number of players.

"We used the series to check on them, and by the tri-series we will have a pretty settled batting line-up."

Although Zimbabwe's spinners acquitted themselves admirably against South Africa, young seamers Neville Madziva and Luke Jongwe picked up just one wicket between them.

However with the more experienced Tendai Chatara and Donald Tiripano expected to return to the squad after they were rested for the series against South Africa, the hosts will hope to make greater inroads up front.


Zimbabwe (from): Elton Chigumbura (capt), Brendan Taylor, Hamilton Masakadza, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Sean Williams, Richmond Mutumbami, Luke Jongwe, Prosper Utseya, John Nyumbu, Shingirai Masakadza, Malcolm Waller, Timycen Maruma, Neville Madziva, Sikandar Raza Butt, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Brian Vitori, Tinashe Panyangara, Donald Tiripano, Tendai Chatara.

Australia: George Bailey (capt), Ben Cutting, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin, Phil Hughes, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc.