Michael Clarke insists the back problems will not force him to eventually quit the game earlier than he would prefer. Photo: Graham Tidy
Michael Clarke is adamant the chronic back troubles that have plagued him for nearly half his life will not force him to cut short his international career.
As Australia's other leadership conundrum dragged into Thursday afternoon, the Test captain said he could manage the degenerative discs in his lower back, which were diagnosed at the age of 17.
Clarke, 31, was due to attend training at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in central Delhi on Thursday afternoon but vice-captain Shane Watson was already being readied to take over temporarily for Friday's fourth Test against India.
The latest recurrence of Clarke's injury, suffered while warming up during the third Test in Mohali, has him in extreme doubt of playing in the final match of the series in the capital and raised questions about his long-term future.
Clarke insists the back problems will not force him to eventually quit the game earlier than he would prefer, or prompt him into surgery.
''No I don't think so, it won't have any impact, it hasn't had any impact in regards to my Test cricket at this stage. I don't think it will play any role at all,'' he said.
''Right now, I've been able to manage it for - what am I now, 31? I had my first scan at 17 that said I had degeneration in my disc. I've been able to manage it this long, I don't see any reason why I can't continue to manage it for the rest of my career.''
Clarke received intensive treatment from team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris since incurring the latest bout of pain last Sunday. He played with painkillers for the remainder of the match, won by India by six wickets to seal a 3-0 series lead, and had to retreat from the field and hand the leadership over to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
''It's a combination of things, my back gets irritated when I'm in flexion and I rotate, so I hurt it the other day doing fielding, sprinting for a ball, picking it up one day and throwing it off balance, which is exactly the opposite to what my back likes,'' Clarke said.
''But I've done that a number of times throughout my career in regards to every time I field. Sometimes with degeneration of the disc, it can flare up, but I will manage it as well as I can. I'm very grateful for the people around, especially Alex Kountouris and my physio when I'm back in Sydney to keep me on the park consistently.
''I don't know if it's as bad as it's been. It's not a nice feeling, it was very uncomfortable and it affected my performance [in Mohali], in regards not to the number of runs I made but the movement.
''I felt I couldn't move down the wicket because I was so restricted and I'd hate to see what the fielding side of it looked like. For me as a batsman if I can't walk out there and make a hundred because this is going to restrict me doing that, then I don't think it's fair on the team to take the field.''
Then there's the fact the four-Test series has already been lost.