Proteas put Michael Clarke on notice



Michael Clarke feels the pain during the Third Test against South Africa at Newlands in March. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Michael Clarke feels the pain during the Third Test against South Africa at Newlands in March. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

CRICKET

South Africa have declared they will "hunt" Michael Clarke down should the Australian skipper recover in time for the business end of the one-day tri-series in Harare.

Clarke is set to miss Wednesday's opening heavyweight clash between the two fierce rivals with his hamstring injury, but he'll be aiming to return for a second bout and a likely final against the Proteas next week.

South Africa have promised to make his comeback as uncomfortable as possible.

Proteas quick Morne Morkel cracked Clarke's shoulder in a brutal exhibition of fast bowling during the Cape Town Test won by Australia in February, and he smells blood in the water.

Allan Donald, South Africa's bowling coach and wicket-taking great, has lit the fuse for another explosive series by revealing Morkel is currently stalking his prey, focused on getting stuck into Clarke once more with another barrage.

"There's no question," Donald said.

"I think Michael will know that Morne is out there to try and hunt him down.

"It's always in the back of your head. When you've had one bowler that has done that to you before, he might do it again.

"It's just about planning and being very smart in how you do that in a one-day scenario."

However, for the moment, the only hunting the South Africans have been doing is fishing in the Zimbabwean bush.

The Proteas have treated themselves to a holiday in the lead-up to the one-day series - with the majority of their players escaping camp for three days to see the sights - feeling they were in need of a break after a recent Test match and one-dayers against Zimbabwe.

While the Australia and Zimbabwe squads attended an official function at the beginning of the week, the Proteas were represented by just four players.

There's no love lost between the teams after Australia prevailed in the epic three-Test series in South Africa earlier in the year.

Even though the conditions in Harare won't be as juicy for the quicks, the resumption of the Mitchell Johnson versus Hasham Amla and Morkel versus Clarke duels promise to be the highlight of the series.

Despite wearing bruises and cracked bones, Clarke ultimately won the battle against Morkel as he survived to post a memorable century that set up the series win.

The skipper says he's prepared for what's coming.

"I've been ready my whole career," Clarke said.

"There's been a lot made of it because I got hit a couple of times but I don't think it's any different. Morne is a very good bowler. Dale Steyn is a very good bowler.

"Playing against South Africa has always been tough."

Donald believes South Africa can claim a slight edge over Australia given they've played plenty of cricket of late and Clarke's side are coming off a four-month break.

"It's always one red flag that jumps out at you when you've had such a long break," Donald said.

However, Australia couldn't have done much more to blow the cobwebs out in their ruthless thrashing of Zimbabwe in the series opener on Monday. - AAP

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