SYDNEY: Recuperating from a hamstring injury, Australian batsman Michael Clarke has been cleared to make his return to international cricket during the upcoming World Cup without a practice match under his belt.
Clarke, who had recovered just in time for the first Test against India at Adelaide before suffering another hamstring injury on the final day that ruled him out for rest of the series, is likely to be named in Australia's 15-man squad which needs to be sent to ICC in Dubai by tomorrow.
"Despite facing a race against time to recover from hamstring surgery, Clarke is tipped to be among the names submitted, given that the rules stipulate that an injured player can be replaced during the competition," Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The 33-year-old, who has played 238 ODIs, had said that he is unlikely to be fit for Australia's World Cup opener against England at the MCG on February 14, which means he would not be fit for the warm-up matches either.
Clarke will be cleared to make his return in the World Cup against minnows -- Bangladesh (Brisbane, Feb 21) or Afghanistan (Perth, Mar 4). But before that he has to prove his fitness by reaching fortnightly benchmarks, an assignment all players returning from injury face.
On the opening day of the fourth Test at SCG today, Clarke was seen continuing his rehabilitation with team medical staff.
Interestingly, Clarke was at loggerheads with selectors in November over how he should prove his fitness for the Test summer, having reinjured the same hamstring three times in three months.