Clarke cleared to face SA in first ODI

Australia vice-captain Michael Clarke, who injured his thumb during the Test series, has been cleared to play the first ODI against South Africa at the MCG

updated: January 15, 2009 08:10 IST
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Australia vice-captain Michael Clarke has been cleared to take the field in the first one-day international against South Africa at the MCG, on Friday.

Clarke injured his right thumb during the Test series against the Proteas, which the hosts lost 1-2, and did not take part in the two Twenty20 Internationals.

He had to go through a fitness test on Thursday and was given the go ahead to face South Africa.

"He'll be fine to play," captain Ricky Ponting said after Clarke went through the nets without pain.

"He completed all his training well today, he's still got a fair bit of discomfort in his thumb but he's had since the first Test match (in December) and got through pretty well. So it's a good sign for us that he's fit for selection," said the skipper who would like to salvage some pride after losing the Test series.

Following Clarke's inclusion, young sensation David Warner has been released from the Australia squad so that he could play for New South Wales against Victoria in Saturday's Twenty20 match in Sydney.

Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, who opted out of the Twenty20 matches, would meanwhile be back in the Australian side. Following the popularity of Twenty20 cricket, tomorrow's one-dayer will gauge the mood of the public to the 50-over game.

However, Ponting had no doubt that the 50-over game still has its relevance.

"I've got no concerns about the 50-over game," said Ponting.

"We understand how big Twenty20 has been for the last couple of years now and how exciting it is for the public and for players. But that's behind us now, we've got to focus on the (one-day) series starting tomorrow," Ponting was quoted as saying by the Australian Associated Press.

The skipper also had high hopes about the team's success in the ODIs after the victories in the two Twenty20 matches. "We've played some good cricket over the last week in the Twenty20 stuff, the energy and enthusiasm of some of the young guys around our squad has been terrific.

"We've got a very flexible squad, a lot of versatility around the group at the moment, which is a massive bonus for 50-over cricket. So everything's heading in the right direction as far as our 50-over cricket is concerned, and hopefully we can start the series off on the right note tomorrow," Ponting said.