1 Dec 2010

Clarke's bat more trouble than his back

10:23 am on 1 December 2010

Cricket Australia insists vice-captain Michael Clarke is fit to play and was the victim of diligent bowling rather than his fragile back during a pained innings in the drawn first Ashes Test in Brisbane.

Clarke lingered at the crease for 76 minutes and 50 balls to make just nine before he was out to a despairing attempt to play a pull shot.

And having entered the Brisbane match under the cloud of recurring back trouble, Clarke dropped a straightforward catch at slip on the final day.

The issue of his fitness is significant in the short and long terms, given his position as the man most likely to replace Ricky Ponting as Test captain.

However coach Tim Nielsen said Clarke had simply been cornered by excellent English bowling on day two.