Michael Clarke stays put as Phil Hughes and Matthew Wade join A side

Last Updated: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 17:58

London: Australia said on Tuesday that captain Michael Clarke will stay in London as he recovers from a back problem, while two of his Ashes colleagues join the country`s A side ahead of their tour match against English county Gloucestershire.

Star batsman Clarke, who has suffered with back problems for much of his career, is optimistic he will be fit in time for the start of Australia`s bid to regain the Ashes from England, starting at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, central England, on July 10.

He has earmarked a return in a tour match against county side Somerset at Taunton, southwest England, on June 26.

But he will remain in London until Australia`s Ashes squad officially assembles on June 24, Cricket Australia said in a statement.

Chris Rogers, Shane Watson, Mitchell Starc, James Faulkner and the suspended David Warner, banned until the first Test following his Birmingham bar-room attack on England`s Joe Root, will also stay in the British capital.

Wicketkeeper Matthew Wade and batsman Phil Hughes are the two members of Australia`s Champions Trophy squad who will now join the A side.

Title-holders Australia crashed out of the Champions Trophy at the group stage following a 20-run defeat by Sri Lanka at The Oval on Monday.

Clarke missed all three of Australia`s matches in a tournament for the world`s top eight one-day international sides but stand-in skipper George Bailey said he was likely to be available for Somerset.

"I would imagine he would be fit for that game," he added.

"There was a real chance that (Clarke) would have been fit for the Sri Lanka game but with the circumstances of the game, he did not play."

Albeit in a different format, England struck the first blow of an Ashes season when they beat arch-rivals Australia by 48 runs in their Champions Trophy opener at Edgbaston.

Rain then ensured a no result for Australia against New Zealand, leaving them requiring a thumping win over Sri Lanka to qualify for the semi-finals.

Mere victory alone was not enough, with Australia required to reach a target of 254 in 29.1 overs if they were to get to the last four.

"There is probably not a great deal of confidence there," Bailey admitted.

He added Australia`s Champions Trophy campaign was on the slide from the moment they lost to England.

"We said at the start that you need to start the competition well in order to get your confidence up so losing to England was a major cock-up," explained Bailey.

"The weather then played its part unfortunately, that was a bit of bad luck because we posted a good score (before rain intervened against New Zealand) but that`s part of the game I guess. There`s not much more we could have done."

Monday`s result means Sri Lanka will play India in Cardiff on Thursday, in a repeat of the 2011 World Cup final in Mumbai which the Indians won, a day after tournament hosts England face South Africa in the first Champions Trophy semi-final.

The final is at Edgbaston, Birmingham, on Sunday.

Mahela Jayawardene anchored Sri Lanka`s innings against Australia with an unbeaten 84 off 81 balls.

Yet he still found himself being sledged for slow-scoring by Wade.

"It was nothing much, just a bit of banter," Jayawardene said after stumps.

"He said something about the way I was batting in the last few overs and I told him not to worry because it was all part of the plan."

"I guess I had the last laugh."

AFP



First Published: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 17:59

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