Clarke confident of match fitness

Jackson Bird
Jackson Bird

NEWLY crowned world No.1-ranked batsman Michael Clarke is confident he'll be fit for the second Test against Sri Lanka in Melbourne on Boxing Day despite suffering a hamstring strain in the first Test in Hobart.

Australia has named a 13-man squad including uncapped Tasmania right- armer Jackson Bird who replaces injured swing specialist Ben Hilfenhaus.

Tasmania's Hilfenhaus broke down with a side strain during Sri Lanka's first innings of the first Test, which Australia won by 137 runs yesterday.

Skipper Clarke made 74 and 57 retired hurt in Hobart and fielded at first slip yesterday, taking a low diving catch.

Former Test No.3 Usman Khawaja was named on his 26th birthday as a standby player for Clarke for the Melbourne Test. Khawaja, who averages under 30 in his six Tests, was dropped after Australia's shock loss to New Zealand in Hobart a year ago.

Bird, also 26, deserves a call-up after shooting to the top of the Sheffield Shield wicket-taking table.

Left-arm quick Mitchell Johnson - who was 12th man in Hobart - remains in the squad and is likely to present a stronger case for selection in the final 11 than Bird, however.

In a cheerful mood after his side's win with 10.4 overs remaining, Clarke said his hamstring injury was not too bad.

"I'll be having plenty of treatment, but I'll be confident I'll be right for Boxing Day," Clarke said.

Australia squad: Michael Clarke (capt), Ed Cowan, David Warner, Phil Hughes, Shane Watson, Mike Hussey, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Johnson, Jackson Bird, Usman Khawaja (on standby for Clarke who has a hamstring injury).


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