Clarke happy with bowling options
Michael Clarke believes Mitchell Starc is ready to step back into Australia's Test side for the series decider in West Indies.
Last Updated: 20/04/12 5:24pm
Captain Michael Clarke believes paceman Mitchell Starc can cover Australia's latest fast-bowling injury crisis as they look to clinch their Test series against West Indies.
Australia confirmed injured duo James Pattinson and Peter Siddle would return home from the Caribbean with back complaints as the second Test ended in a draw in Trinidad.
Pattinson was unable to bowl after Clarke made another aggressive declaration to set the Windies a victory target of 215.
But bad light and rain again closed in to halt the hosts at 53-2 after Darren Sammy had taken up the challenge with a quickfire 30.
With Australia 1-0 up that meant the three-Test series will be decided in Domenica next week, and while the tourists' fast-bowling stocks have again been hit hard, Clarke has backed Starc to fill the breach.
"It's obviously disappointing that we lose two very good bowlers, but Mitchell Starc certainly comes into contention now as one of our fast bowlers, or we have to option to play two spinners again," Clarke said.
"I thought (Starc) bowled really well throughout the Australian summer, he's bowling very well in the nets - I've seen that first hand - and I think if he gets an opportunity he'll grab it with both hands."
Clarke admitted his frustration that his side were unable to push for victory - which would have retained the Frank Worrell trophy - after he declared at 160-8.
With his side already ahead in the series Clarke was under no obligation to give West Indies a chance in the game, but the 30-year-old said it was a risk he was willing to take to win.
"I thought we probably needed at least 60 overs to try and bowl them out on that wicket, which certainly gave them a chance to try and win the Test," he said.
"Like I said after Barbados, there's always a risk in trying to win. You risk losing and unfortunately the rain cost both teams.
"I think it would have been a really good finish to a tough Test match."
Clarke revealed he even offered to bowl spinners from both ends when darkness engulfed Queen's Park Oval, but was unable to convince umpires Marais Erasmus and Ian Gould.
"Darren (Sammy) and I spoke on the ground before we came off for bad light and both captains wanted to do everything we could to stay out there, but as the umpires said, it was just way too dark, unfortunately," Clarke said.
West Indies also have their injury worries heading to Dominica with Sammy revealing quick Fidel Edwards was suffering with back pain while vice-captain Kirk Edwards has not recovered from a knee problem to play in the third Test.
The selectors responded by calling up uncapped left-hander Assad Fudadin while Sammy indicated Ravi Rampaul was ready to step up should Fidel Edwards be ruled out.
Rampaul missed the opening one-day series due to dengue fever and a shoulder injury but after two weeks of nets training is fit to return.
"Fidel has a slight pain in his back so we'll monitor that," he said. "If not then Ravi comes in and I know Ravi will do the job for us."
After Kemar Roach claimed 10 wickets in the match Sammy praised his bowling attack, adding: "It's not only this series, it's been the last year and a half, there's been a massive improvement in the bowling department.
"We can get 20 wickets in Test matches and we bowl out teams - that was something we were not doing in the past. So definitely the bowling has improved, especially under coach [Ottis] Gibson and it will continue.
"To have a guy like Ravi Rampaul, who took so many wickets for last year on the bench shows we have depth.
"Kemar has been very good against the Australians and Fidel has been bowling well, without any luck, and I know Ravi is eager for his opportunity."