Shaun Marsh has been called into Australia’s squad for the first test against India as cover for injured captain Michael Clarke, while coach Darren Lehmann says there will be no pressure placed on his players to take to the pitch following the death of Phillip Hughes.
Marsh will join the 12-man squad in Adelaide, where the rescheduled four-test series starts next Tuesday. Clarke has experienced recent hamstring and back issues.
The Australian team is regrouping after Wednesday’s funeral for Hughes, who died last Thursday after being hit by a delivery two days earlier in a domestic match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Hughes and Marsh had been the leading candidates to replace Clarke when the captain suffered the latest recurrence of his chronic back and hamstring problem, ruling him out of the first test as originally scheduled.
The delayed start to the series due to Hughes’ death had bought Clarke extra time to overcome the injury, but he remains in doubt.
Clarke did not fly to Adelaide aboard a charter flight on Thursday with the rest of the team from Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, near where Hughes’ funeral was held. He was also not immediately scheduled to give any media conferences in Adelaide, adding speculation that he may not play the opener.
Some of the Australian players may also withdraw from the Adelaide test as they continue to recover emotionally from Hughes’ death, and Lehmann stressed Thursday that they wouldn’t be forced to play.
”We hope the boys can find the inner strength to play the game in the way Phillip would have wanted in Adelaide next week and that they can honor what he had done,” Lehmann wrote in The Australian newspaper.
”We want to hold his values close to our heart and that means playing cricket the way he did, with a love of the game and a smile. It’s going to be hard and if somebody is struggling Michael and I understand. There is no pressure on them. We will look after them and we will help them get back to the place where they can play.”