Tetchy Clarke has something to prove against Sri Lanka

Having kept reporters waiting for an hour while he finished batting in the nets, Clarke’s first few answers indicated it might possibly be the least informative of his many appearances in front of the media.

Have you got a team? — “I haven’t got a team”. Is it a fitness thing? — “I’ve absolutely no idea”. How is Mitch Marsh? — “I don’t know the answer to that”. Is Shane Watson set for a recall? — “I’m not a selector so I don’t know the answer to that.”

Clarke can be a great communicator, as he graphically illustrated with an incredibly moving tribute to Phillip Hughes in the same news conference room just four months ago.

Having forcefully made clear his lack of status in the selectorial inner sanctum, therefore, he soon tired of being the curmudgeon.

All-rounder Marsh was raring to go despite a slight foot niggle, he said, while fast bowler Pat Cummins was unavailable for a second match in a row because of his side strain.

A clue to Clarke’s mood perhaps came when he was asked how he was feeling physically, a question he has faced countless times over the last few months as he has battled with recurring hamstring problems.

With Australia’s match against Bangladesh having been washed out and the victory over Afghanistan being so comprehensive he did not need to bat, Clarke’s injury-delayed start to the World Cup means he has faced just 18 balls at the tournament.

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