'Pup' Clarke in doubt for first Oz-Windies Test

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Sydney, Nov.5 (ANI): Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke's back injury is healing slowly and there is a doubt over him taking his appointed place in the national squad for the first test against the West Indies, which starts from November 26.

Australia's team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris last night could not guarantee he would be fit for the first Test.

"He gets back soreness that usually only takes him two or three days to get over. That is what has made this one unusual. It didn't come right so quickly. He's not doing anything too elaborate right now. He's running again, which is a good sign. He still has 20 or so days before the Test, but I can't say anything is certain," The Age quoted Kountouris, as saying.

Clarke's last innings for Australia was in a one-dayer against England in September. If he's forced out of the shield game for NSW starting in 12 days, he will need to take on the Windies without having played a first-class innings for more than three months.

Siddle is among four injured players sent home from India, joining vice-captain Clarke, pacer Nathan Bracken (knee) and young batsman Callum Ferguson (knee) on the sidelines.

Wicketkeeper Tim Paine busted a finger and all-rounder Moses Henriques has been brought down by a hamstring.

Australian Cricketers' Association chief executive Paul Marsh said the alarming body count should serve as a wake-up call to the cricket officials who are drawing up a Future Tours Program to replace the existing one from 2012.

"If you ever needed evidence of the impact of such an enormous workload, we're seeing it now," Marsh said.

Australia's program is particularly gruelling this year because the Champions Trophy and a limited-overs tour of Pakistan were deferred until 2009 for security reasons.

Australia will have played a record 40 ODIs in the calendar year, as well as 13 Tests and a World Twenty20 championship.

Marsh said the national teams' performances would suffer unless there was a substantial reduction in the amount of cricket. Player representatives recently implored the ICC to address these concerns or risk more players retiring from Test cricket to focus on the shorter forms. (ANI)

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