Lehmann frustrated by Clarke speculation

Australia coach Darren Lehmann is getting frustrated by all the speculation surrounding the fitness and leadership of captain Michael Clarke ahead of the World Cup, starting on the 14 February.

Clarke has had to fend off questions about his fitness and the rumours that the Australian team is ready to move on from his leadership style to Steve Smith, who Clarke has himself said he would be happy to play under.

The skipper is battling to be 100% fit for the global event, which Australia will be co-hosting with New Zealand, although he did get through a grade match at the weekend and has another practise match for a Cricket Australia (CA) XI against Bangladesh on Thursday.

Lehmann feels that Clarke should be getting the respect he deserves, as the captain, and that he is on track to be fit for Australia's second match of the showpiece event, also against Bangladesh, on 21 February.

Responding to all the Clark speculation, the coach told the Adelaide radio station FiveAA: "I'm sick of it. I'm looking forward to him coming back. He played grade cricket on the weekend which is great, he's playing up here on Thursday so I'll get to have a look at him.

"I had a good chat to him and he pulled up really well from the grade game. He's ahead of schedule and I think he's said that in the press as well. Fingers crossed he might be.

"He's captain of Australia, the second most important position behind the Prime Minister as such, we need our captain playing well. When he played well he got a hundred in Adelaide and we won that Test match."

The coach has also rubbished claims that the national team or the CA administration does not support Clarke as captain any longer.

Lehamnn said: "We all get on, that's the great thing. Media can say what they like. Media will speculate and people are going to have their views. From our point of view we want our captain fit, which is great leading into the most important tournament for four years.

"We've got the World Cup, the West Indies tour and the Ashes, and we want him ready to go because he leads this side very well."