Clarke’s injury drags Sydney clubs into trouble

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Australia captain Michael Clarke's battle for fitness ahead of the first Test against India has dragged club cricket into the mire, with his Sydney club, Western Suburbs, getting into trouble for trying to help him.

The club was playing a grade game against Paramatta this weekend, and when Wests were put in to bat, they declared their first innings on just 17/0, to give Clarke a chance to bat in the second half of the game next weekend.

With Clarke not even running or batting in the nets yet due to his hamstring injury, his chances of playing in Brisbane on 4 December do not look good. But Wests skipper Jeff Cook felt he'd done the right thing by manipulating the game.

He said: "I expect to get dragged over the coals but I'm big enough, and ugly enough, to cop that on the chin. If Michael bats next week, gets enough runs and plays for Australia in the opening Test, I'll feel as though I've done the right thing."

Cricket NSW chief executive Andrew Jones was unimpressed with the situation though, saying that while it was a nice gesture when thinking about the bigger Oz picture, it damaged the credibility of the Grade competition.

He said: "We understand Wests may have taken this action [the declaration] to increase the probability of Australian Captain Michael Clarke batting in the second week of the game.

"While Cricket NSW and the Sydney Cricket Association are conscious of the broader interests of Australian cricket and hence appreciate the thinking behind this gesture, we are also conscious of the need to maintain the integrity of the Sydney grade competition.

"Consequently we will investigate the full facts and evaluate Wests' actions at the conclusion of the round, with appropriate input from all key stakeholders."

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