Australia’s Clarke Backs Himself to Get Through Two Ashes Series

Australia captain Michael Clarke said his experience of managing a back injury throughout his career will help him lead the team through consecutive Ashes cricket series against England.

Clarke, who was last month named as the leading cricketer of 2012 by Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, the sport’s annual reference book, is recovering from back and hamstring injuries that forced him to withdraw from the final match of Australia’s 4-0 Test series loss in India in March.

It was the only elite five-day match Clarke has missed because of injury in his 92-Test career. When he returns, the 32-year-old faces an eight-month schedule during which his team competes in June’s one-day Champions Trophy followed by best-of-five Ashes series beginning July 10 in England and then in Australia from Nov. 21.

“I’m confident it will be no different to how it has been throughout my career,” Clarke, who scored an Australian-record 1,595 Test runs in 2012, told reporters in Sydney today. “I’ve managed to play 90-odd Test matches and only missed one, so that’s a big part of why preparation is so important for me.”

The eight-nation Champions Trophy is scheduled for June 6-23 in the U.K.

After winning eight straight Ashes contests between 1989 and 2003, Australia lost three of the past four and faces the prospect of losing three series in a row against its archrival for the first time since 1956. England is the 4-9 favorite to win on home soil, according to U.K. bookmaker William Hill.

Clarke said the only difference between his preparation compared with previous years is that Cricket Australia has had more input, with national team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris monitoring his rehabilitation and training program.

“I need to make sure I’m fit,” Clarke added. “I need to make sure I’m not carrying too much weight. I need to make sure I’m putting in the work to be fit in eight months or 12 months’ time. I’m really confident that, with the work I’ve been doing, that I will be.”

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