CAPTAIN TO CAPTAIN: Michael Clarke (left) will hand the captaincy reins to George Bailey (right) for tomorrow’s World Cup opener with England.
CAPTAIN TO CAPTAIN: Michael Clarke (left) will hand the captaincy reins to George Bailey (right) for tomorrow’s World Cup opener with England. GETTY IMAGES

Clarke to wait for World Cup start

AUSTRALIAN captain Michael Clarke has been cleared to bat, bowl and field in the World Cup, but not against England at the MCG tomorrow.

Clarke, who made 64 and bowled two overs in the final warm-up game against the UAE at the MCG on Wednesday, was put through his paces at a training session yesterday.

Coach Darren Lehmann said the skipper was "very keen to play" against England, but he and his fellow selectors had opted to err on the side of caution and bring Clarke back for game two against Bangladesh at the Gabba on February 21.

"He's very keen to play. But we've got to make sure when he gets back he's ready to go, and he will be come Saturday week," Lehmann said.

Clarke's absence for the opening game will pave the way for vice-captain George Bailey to lead the side in what could prove to be a rare appearance during the tournament.

Bailey has had a lean spell in the past 13 months, and with selectors keen to play all-rounders, the

Tasmanian will have to rely on injuries.

James Faulkner (side strain) is the key concern, and will have to bide his time early while fellow all-rounders Shane Watson, Mitch Marsh and Glenn Maxwell get the first opportunity.

Only three of that quartet is likely to play in Australia's best XI, with Maxwell having an advantage because of his off-spin, and Faulkner because of his ability to bat and bowl at the death.

Meanwhile, England batsman Joe Root, who top-scored with 85 in his team's final warm-up match against Pakistan on Wednesday, said that loss was irrelevant and everybody simply wanted to get down to business.

"We're ready now," Root said.

"We're fed up of waiting around, we want to get cracking, we want Saturday to come round and we want to surprise people.

"We want to put in a performance that gets us a win."

- APN SPORTS BUREAU



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