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IPL not worth the risk for Clarke

Michael Clarke should withdraw from the Indian Premier League immediately.

It was already a risky move for Australia's captain and best player to gallivant around the subcontinent for another six or seven weeks ahead of the Ashes. Now, with the onset of a back injury, it is a no-brainer.

Such was his discomfort, Clarke looked like he could barely walk after the third Test in Mohali. The painkillers had worn off by the time he fronted a post-match news conference, and it showed.

Whether he ends up playing in the fourth Test, which starts in Delhi on Friday, is almost a side issue in the long run. With the series against India dead and buried, what matters for Australia on the near horizon is being in some sort of competent shape for the main event of the cricket calendar - the Test series against England in July and August.

Australia's Ashes campaign starts even earlier than that, with the ICC Champions Trophy. The first match in that one-day tournament is at Edgbaston on June 8.

Tour matches and then the Ashes follow immediately.


To play in the IPL, which stretches through April and May, would give Clarke almost no time off for his back to recuperate.

He is due to play for Pune Warriors in a fortnight's time.

The franchise, owned by the conglomerate Sahara India Pariwar, is scheduled to play 17 games in 44 days and more if they make the finals in late May.

Clarke gave nothing away about his position in the IPL on Thursday. ''I need to take it one step at a time. At the moment it's about concentrating on this Test and getting up for that, and then I will make a plan after that.''

He need not think twice. The back issue aside, he is not being paid enough by Pune for the gamble to be worthwhile.