Clarke set for crucial net session

A fit Michael Clarke and a fired-up Test side are what Darren Lehmann hopes to see out in the middle of Adelaide Oval on Tuesday.


For contrasting reasons, neither is certain to be there when the four-Test seres against India starts.

But as Australia trained together for the first time since Phillip Hughes’ tragic death, there was reason to believe both will be.

Clarke, returning from a third hamstring setback since August, ran at the SCG on Friday and is set to bat in the nets at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.

Should the 33-year-old do that and recover well, it appears likely he will lead the grief-stricken side through the toughest Test of their careers.

“As long as he is fine, he can do the running and bat at the level he needs to, we’ll be fine,” Lehmann said of what Clarke needed to prove over the next three days to play.

“We want our captain playing, as simple as that.

“We’ll be guided by medical staff, the captain himself, selectors. We’ll get together and assess what the plan is tomorrow.”

Clarke and the entire Test squad attended Hughes’ funeral on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Clarke attended a private cremation in Macksville with Hughes’ family while his teammates started to make their way to Adelaide.

Clarke remains heartbroken over the death of a close friend.

But Lehmann hinted the skipper’s hamstring would be the only reason for him to miss the upcoming Test.

“He’s pretty mentally strong, as you saw throughout the week,” Lehmann said.

“He was great with the Hughes family and held himself together really well and led the team really well.”

It remains unclear whether any mourning players will pull out of the game, with Lehman tightlipped about the side’s potential contingency plans for withdrawals.

“We’ve got plenty of steps behind the scenes and it probably stays with us,” Lehmann said.

Lehmann hoped the XI would honour Hughes by playing “good, hard Test cricket”.

“It’s the way we have always played and we have certainly had some success doing it, so I can’t see why we would change,” he said.

Lehmann admitted it was too early to know whether Australia’s standard aggression would be curbed by thoughts of Hughes’ desperately unlucky death.

“Time will tell,” he said.

“But that’s how we want to play and we know that’s how we play our best cricket.”

Peter Siddle and Josh Hazlewood sent down a handful of bouncers at training, but Lehmann suggested his charges would not be capable of training at full intensity for a few days.

“By Sunday or Monday I’d expect them to be going 100 per cent,” he said.