Sweating on Clarke's fitness test

Michael Clarke (left), coach Mickey Arthur and chairman of selectors John Inverarity at training yesterday. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Michael Clarke (left), coach Mickey Arthur and chairman of selectors John Inverarity at training yesterday. Picture: GETTY IMAGES


Australian captain Michael Clarke will make a last-minute decision on his fitness this morning, while his Sri Lankan counterpart awaits a hostile MCG reception as the ball-tampering fallout continues.

Clarke was put through a searching fitness test yesterday as he battled a hamstring complaint suffered in the dramatic Test victory in Hobart last week.

He said he would wait to see how he recovered this morning before deciding whether to play.

Shane Watson will captain Australia for the first time and Usman Khawaja would return to the Test line-up if Clarke is ruled out.

"My fitness test was really [Christmas Day]," Clarke said.

"Now I need to see how I pull up from that before we make a decision on whether I am 100 per cent fit to play."

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene, facing Melbourne crowd hero Peter Siddle for the first time since making an unofficial complaint about ball tampering in the first Test, is bracing for a backlash from both the quick and the crowd.

Sri Lanka approached ICC match referee Chris Broad in Hobart.

The allegation was dismissed and Siddle was furious at how his name had been dragged through the social media during day five of the match, in which he claimed nine wickets.

Jayawardene is expecting several thousand Sri Lankan fans to also pack into the ground and make their feelings known in defence of their team.

Despite his side's 137-run loss in Hobart, Jayawardene was in a confident mood yesterday.

Not only would the tourists have strong support in the crowd, he said, but they would also be going after Australia's offspinner Nathan Lyon, who failed to take a wicket in Sri Lanka's second innings in Hobart.

Jayawardene needs no reminding about what happened the last time Sri Lanka played a Test at the MCG. That was in 1995, when spinner Muttiah Muralitharan was no-balled seven times in three overs for throwing.

"We have been through a lot of hostile things in the past - 1995 was one, and even after that," Jayawardene said.

"I don't think that fazes our team. It might give us something extra. You have to remember there will be a good partisan Sri Lankan crowd as well, so that will be good. It might go against him [Siddle].

"We can't control what happens out there. All we can control is what happens in the middle.

"A lot of the younger guys probably won't even understand what the crowd's going to tell them."

Jayawardene took aim at Lyon, saying Sri Lanka's batsmen were playing for a draw in Hobart on a wearing pitch.

"We would definitely have gone after Nathan Lyon if the wicket was half decent." AAP


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