20 Dec 2012

Sri Lanka say no Clarke would be a bonus

6:31 am on 20 December 2012

The Sri Lanka cricket coach Graham Ford admits it will be good for his side if Australia's world No.1-ranked batsman Michael Clarke is ruled out of the Boxing Day Test through injury.

Clarke is desperate to overcome a hamstring complaint for the clash in Melbourne, after limping through Tuesday's final day of play in the first Test in Hobart as the home side claimed a 137-run win.

The Test vice-captain Shane Watson, who has led Australia's one-day international side to four wins from eight matches as a stand-in for the injured Clarke, would take over as Test skipper in the event of Clarke being unfit.

Australia have included uncapped right-arm quick Jackson Bird for injured swing bowler Ben Hilfenhaus in a 13-man squad for Melbourne.

However Bird could find himself as 12th man as Australia's selectors consider injecting Mitchell Johnson to partner fellow left-armer Mitchell Starc and right-armer Peter Siddle.