Sydney, Jan 31: Australia's World Cup captain Michael Clarke struck a fine half-century in a Sydney Grade cricket match for Western Suburbs as the premier batsman races ahead of time to be fit for the 50-over showpiece event starting mid February.
Coming in early at No.3 position, Clarke (51), who is recovering from a hamstring injury, hit 2 fours and a six in his almost three-hour stay at the crease and he was satisfied with his innings on a two-paced Chatswood Oval track that saw some rain in the morning.
"It's obviously great to be back out there playing. There's certainly a bit of rust in the system, as you would have seen, so it's nice to be back out there in the middle," Clarke was quoted as saying on the Cricket Australia website.
Clarke, after his 128-ball stay, was finally caught at shortish mid-on off the bowling of Gordon off-spinner Josh Poysden. The match is Clarke's first since he underwent hamstring surgery in December and the 33-year-old is trying to prove his fitness ahead of Australia's second match of the World Cup on February 21.
Clarke will fly to Brisbane tomorrow evening and he is hopeful that if he recovers well from this match, he will represent a CA XI in a World Cup warm-up match against Bangladesh at Allan Border Field on Thursday. But Clarke is still cautious talking about his World Cup return.
"I'm certainly ahead of where the surgeon and the Australian medical staff thought I would be at the six-and-a-half week stage," he said.
"The fact that I'm back out on the field playing is a really positive sign, but there's still a long way to go before I can walk out in an international (match) and play for Australia.
"The positive is I'm taking each step. It's nice to be in a position where the Australian medical staff can allow me to come back and play for my grade club, but it's one day at a time.
"My goal is to get fit as soon as I can and there's a time frame set by Cricket Australia and the selectors that I certainly understand and respect.
"It's just about me taking every single step and then as soon as I'm fit I'll be pushing the Australian medical staff to let me get back on the park and play for Australia."