Brisbane: Battling against time to prove his fitness ahead of the cricket World Cup, Michael Clarke took a baseball bat instead of the willow in an unconventional net session today as the Australian captain looked set to return after his hamstring injury.
In a draining net session at the Allan Border Field, Clarke belted the ball all around ahead of the practice match against Bangladesh tomorrow.
Australian coach Darren Lehmann, who is sick of answering question's on Clarke's fitness, believes that the 33-year-old is set to lead the side in the 50-over showpiece event.
"I think as a group we know he's ready to come back and play. And we want him to play. He's captain of our country and he's going to lead us really well in the World Cup. Fingers crossed he gets through the next couple of games and he's ready to go," Lehmann was quoted as saying by 'Sydney Morning Herald'.
"We know what's going on within our group and we're really comfortable with where we're sitting. Out of the last 23 games, we've won 19 of them, so we're in a good space. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but we know where we are at as a squad. He's got a pretty important job to play with us as leader and we need him back playing well and leading well."
On the use of the black baseball bat before reverting to the traditional willow, Clarke said that he always tries something different in the nets, with inputs from the support staff.
"The medical staff dictate how hard I can push but I think everybody is pretty happy at the moment," Clarke said.
"I've been doing it for about four years. (Fielding coach Mike) Young introduced me to it. It makes me watch the ball a little bit closer. It's good for drills," he added.