Sydney: Australia's ICC Cricket World Cup skipper Michael Clarke has registered a half-century in his comeback match in Sydney Grade cricket.
Playing for Western Suburbs against Gordon Saturday, Clarke was listed at No.3 in the batting order and walked to the crease after the loss of an early wicket.
He was 26 not out at lunch and brought up his 50 with a single to fine leg midway during the second session.
He was dismissed a short time later for 51 from 128 balls, caught at shortish mid-on off the bowling of off-spinner Josh Poysden.
His innings featured two fours and a six and more importantly lasted almost three hours on a Chatswood Oval pitch.
"So far so good," Clarke said at lunch.
"It's obviously great to be back out there playing. There's certainly a bit of rust in the system, as you would have seen, so it's nice to be back out there in the middle."
The match is Clarke's first since he underwent hamstring surgery in December. The 33-year-old is trying to prove his fitness ahead of Australia's second match of the ICC Cricket World Cup Feb 21.
Clarke will fly to Brisbane Sunday evening and is hopeful that if he recovers well from this match, he will represent a Cricket Australia XI in a World Cup warm-up match against Bangladesh at Allan Border Field Thursday.
While thrilled to be back playing, Clarke remained cautious and said the match was just another step on the road to the World Cup.
"I'm certainly ahead of where the surgeon and the Australian medical staff thought I would be at the six-and-a-half week stage," he said.
"The fact that I'm back out on the field playing is a really positive sign, but there's still a long way to go before I can walk out in an international (match) and play for Australia."