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Captain Clarke could have played WC opener, says Warne


Melbourne: Legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne Friday said Australian captain Michael Clarke is fitter than he has been in the last five years and should have been picked for Australia's World Cup opener against England Saturday.

Warne said the 33-year-old Clarke is "ready to go" for the 14-nation quadrennial tournament in the Antipodes.

Clarke will return to international cricket during the World Cup following a hamstring injury in December. He had been hounded by several fitness issues throughout the last year.

Clarke is expected to make a return to the Australian squad for the game against Bangladesh in Brisbane. Cricket Australia (CA) did not want to risk him by rushing him to play against England in the opener but Warne feels otherwise.

"I think he's just ready to go, obviously the physios and everybody planned a certain path for Michael, they said 'right this is the eight-week period, you need to do this and need to do that'," Warne was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.

"They've basically tried to break him. They've tried to break him with his fitness tests, they've tried to break him in all parts of it.”

The spinning great added he expects big things from Clarke who has 36 international tons to his credit.

"To see him come through with flying colours and be fitter than he's ever been for at least three to five years, he reckons, being that fit at the moment, he knows deep down now that he's done. There's nothing more that he can do," he said.

"He's done everything, he's ready to go. I'm expecting some big things from him. He's pretty hungry at the moment to play."

Clarke played in a warm-up match against the United Arab Emirates in Melbourne, Wednesday. He top scored with 64, bowled two overs and fielded throughout the innings.