Cautious Clarke raises World Cup risk factor

Hobart: Acting Australian captain Michael Clarke is wondering just how many risks the defending champions can afford to take in their selections for February 19-April 2 tournament in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Ponting (broken finger) and Hussey (hamstring surgery) are on the sidelines and appear unlikely to take part in Australia`s seven-game series of one-day internationals against England, which finishes in Perth on February 6.

Skipper Ponting might be fit for the World Cup warm-up games against India and South Africa in Bangalore on February 13 and 15, Clarke says.

Hussey`s Melbourne surgeon David Young says the 35-year-old will be fit to play in Australia`s third World Cup game on March 5 against Sri Lanka in Colombo.

Australia`s seven-team group includes Zimbabwe, Canada and Kenya so the quarter-finals shouldn`t be a huge stretch for Ponting`s side.

Even so, Clarke sounded a note of caution on Thursday about the risks associated with carrying two injured batsmen in a 15-man squad.

"Hopefully he (Hussey) is okay. He`s been a huge player, not only this summer in the Test format but over a long period of time in one-day cricket," Clarke told a press conference in Hobart.

"They (medical staff) are confident that if all goes well they can get him fit to take part in the World Cup. It`s just a matter of when he`ll be fit and if selectors are willing to take that risk to take him into the World Cup not being 100 per cent. Everybody`s hoping that he gets fit and we get him onto the park sooner rather than later,” The Age quoted Clarke, as saying.

Clarke said three-time World Cup winner Ponting`s condition was being assessed daily.

"I`m confident Ricky will be right to play the World Cup, it`s just about how much batting he gets under his belt leading up to that first game (February 21 against Zimbabwe in Ahmedabad, India)," Clarke said.