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Michael Clarke named skipper of Australia's World Cup squad

Sydney: Selectors named Michael Clarke on Sunday as captain of Australia`s squad for next month`s World Cup, with a fitness contingency should he not be able to play following recent hamstring surgery.

Clarke, who missed the final three Tests against India following the surgery, has been given until February 21 to prove his fitness for the one-day tournament.

"Captain Michael Clarke will lead our World Cup campaign should he recover from his injury," chief selector Rod Marsh said.

"He is one of the world`s best batsmen and we want to give him every chance to prove his fitness for a tournament as important as this one.

"Our medical staff are pleased with his progress following hamstring surgery in December and he continues to undergo thorough rehabilitation work with a view to being ready to play an important role in the World Cup.

"We have said that if Michael has not recovered by our second match of the tournament against Bangladesh on 21 February, we will replace him in the squad.

"He understands that and is working tirelessly with medical staff to get back to fitness."

A standby player for Clarke has not been named however Marsh said that if he became unavailable, George Bailey would captain the side in his absence.

All-rounder Mitchell Marsh, who missed the recent Melbourne and Sydney Tests against India with hamstring trouble, was also named in a squad that contained few surprises.

Selectors also included all-rounders Shane Watson and James Faulkner, while the versatile Glenn Maxwell gets his chance.

Xavier Doherty was picked as the sole recognised spinner, with Maxwell expected to provide the side`s spin in most games.

Mitchell Johnson, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood comprise Australia`s pace attack, while Brad Haddin will keep wickets.

David Warner and Aaron Finch will open the batting for Australia, with batsmen Steve Smith, in the form of his life after scoring 769 runs in the four-Test series against India, and Bailey rounding out the squad.

Marsh said all-rounder Marsh was on track to be fit for the start of the World Cup.

"Mitchell is progressing well with his rehab and we expect him to be available at some stage during the tri-series against India with the aim to have him well prepared for the World Cup," the chief selector said.

"This group has played a major role in getting Australia back to number one in one-day cricket and we feel we have the right mix of players to represent our country on the biggest stage of all.

"These players have really gelled over the past 18 months with their preparation geared towards giving us the best chance of winning a World Cup on home soil."

Australia are chasing a record fifth ICC Cricket World Cup after winning the tournament in India in 1987, England in 1999, South Africa in 2003 and the West Indies in 2007.

Australia begin their World Cup campaign against England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on February 14.

Australia - Michael Clarke (capt), George Bailey, Pat Cummins, Xavier Doherty, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson.

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