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Clarke’s fitness to be tested tomorrow, Lehmann hopeful

Australian skipper Michael Clarke

Adelaide, Dec 5 (PTI) Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke’s fitness will be put to test here tomorrow even as coach Darren Lehmann hoped that the inspirational player would be ready for the opening Test against India despite also battling tremendous emotional stress owing to Phillip Hughes’ death.

“Yeah he’s pretty mentally strong. He was great with the Hughes family and held himself together really well, led the team really well,” Lehmann told reporters.

“He flies in this afternoon, get him here tomorrow, get him batting and see how he goes. As long as he’s fine, he can do the running and bat at the level he needs to, we’ll be fine. We want our captain playing. It’s a simple as that,” he said.

Clarke has broken down emotionally after Hughes tragic death and has also been racing against time to recover from a nagging hamstring injury for the opening Test starting December 9.

“I’m very proud of him but proud of all of them, the way they’ve handled it,” Lehmann said when asked about the way the skipper and the team have dealt with Hughes’ death after being by a bouncer last week.

On whether returning to the field would help the players deal with their grief, Lehmann said: “We think so. Only time will tell.”

“We lost a family member from our cricket community and now it’s a case of rallying around his family and the whole cricket family and get on with what we do well and that’s play some cricket,” he said.

“But I’m sure they’re going to be fine. They’re looking forward to actually getting out there and playing some cricket and training and getting ready for a Test match. Hughesy would want us to do that as well,” he added.

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