23 Nov 2010

Clarke facing test match D-day

6:03 am on 23 November 2010

The Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting says today is D-day for Michael Clarke, suggesting if his injured deputy doesn't bat in the nets he can't expect to be considered for selection for the first Ashes test against England starting on Thursday in Brisbane.

The home side's troubled build-up took another turn for the worse yesterday when the Austraolian selectors called in the left-hand batsman Usman Khawaja on standby for Clarke, who continues to battle a back injury.

Clarke says his chronic problem, which flared up 10 days ago, has never caused him to miss a Test in his 64-match career, but according to Ponting, Clarke's fitness will be under the closest of scrutiny from today, although he's such a vital component of the team they could leave a decision on his fitness as late as Thursday morning.

Khawaja's call up was at the expense of the New South Wales all-rounder Steven Smith, who was in the original 13-man squad, but has seemingly been pushed back in the queue.