"My focus ... is to make sure I get back and play some good cricket" ... Michael Clarke. Photo: Getty Images
MICHAEL CLARKE has confirmed he is in talks to join Indian Premier League franchise Pune Warriors. Clarke has so far resisted the lure of playing in the rich competition but came close in 2009 before withdrawing from the IPL auction to focus on playing for Australia.
Pune captain Sourav Ganguly has stated publicly that the Warriors were on the verge of snaring the Australian captain and on Clarke confirmed he was in talks. ''That opportunity has been presented to my management company and I,'' he said.
''Right now they're discussing it. We will continue to talk about that and make a decision … But my focus right now is to make sure I get back and play some good cricket for Australia.''
Clarke says he has come through an intense couple of weeks of physiotherapy in great shape and will be ready for the first Test against the West Indies in Barbados starting on April 7.
Clarke was ruled out of the tri-series earlier this month after he suffered a hamstring injury against Sri Lanka. But following two weeks of rehabilitation under physiotherapist Alex Kountouris, Clarke said he was feeling great.
''It's been a busy couple of weeks of rehab and treatment with my physio,'' said Clarke, who departed for the Caribbean yesterday. ''I had a fitness test Friday and I passed all of that. I've still got seven days until our tour game starts. Alex just wanted to check my strength and see if that had improved over the couple of weeks. There was some running - general straight-line running and some running between wickets, and sideways movement to check I'll be fine fielding.
''He [Kountouris] is really confident at where I'm at now. Knowing that we've got that time before the tour game, I'll be 100 per cent.''
Meanwhile, in St Lucia, Clint McKay is typically no-fuss about his latest feat, achieved faster than all but three Australian bowlers in history.
The Victorian paceman secured his 50th one-day wicket during the game-four loss to the West Indies in St Lucia on Friday. McKay's mark of 27 matches to achieve the milestone has only been bettered by Dennis Lillee (24), Shane Warne (25) and Len Pascoe (26) among Australians. Brett Lee took 29 matches to get to 50 wickets, Mitchell Johnson took 30 and Glenn McGrath 37.
McKay's 50 scalps have come at the excellent average of 21.36 with an economy rate less than five an over, illustrating just how good he has been.
While Australia's defeat and Kieron Pollard's brilliant 70-ball 102, meant his milestone achievement did not get much celebration, teammates recognised its worth. ''It's a great honour for me,'' McKay said.