Clarke’s woes with the bat, not back

Michael Clarke’s physical condition is playing no part in his lean run, according to Australia batting coach Michael Di Venuto.

Clarke has scored two centuries in his past 26 Test innings.

The skipper is yet to post a half-century for the Test side since returning on the recent tour of the West Indies.

More notable than any of those numbers has been Clarke’s laboured approach at the crease, with few sightings of his trademark elegance on the ongoing Ashes tour.

It’s been suggested that Clarke’s chronic back injury has been particularly restrictive since he returned from hamstring surgery.

Di Venuto doesn’t see it.

“He seems unrestricted and he hasn’t had a problem since, so I certainly don’t think that’s any reason why he hasn’t been able to get a big score of late,” he said.

“I thought he looked pretty good in the World Cup final for his 70-odd – no difference.

“And he looked pretty good when he couldn’t move when he scored a hundred when his back was no good against India.”

Clarke will seek to turn things around on Wednesday when the third Ashes Test starts at Edgbaston.

The assistant coach believed there was only one solution to his charge’s woes – time in the middle.

“As batsmen, you go through little patches where things don’t quite click,” Di Venuto said.

“But he’s not too far away.

“He knows how to go about it and how to get himself back scoring runs. You can’t do that in the nets. You’ve got to do that out in the middle.”

Clarke scored an unbeaten 44 on Saturday when Australia wrapped up preparations for the third Ashes Test with a draw against Derbyshire.

The 34-year-old promoted himself up the order in his side’s brief second innings, having been dismissed for 16 off 37 balls in Derby on Thursday.

Derbyshire wicketkeeper Harvey Hosein grassed a catch when Clarke was on 19 but otherwise it was a chance-less innings.

He struck eight boundaries in a valuable 96-minute workout as Australia finished 1-95 in their second dig.

“I’m sure a big score is not too far away,” Di Venuto said.

“He’s meticulous in his preparation.

“He’s playing well in the nets, he’s preparing well. He just needs a bit of luck.”

Peter Nevill was behind the stumps for the entire Derbyshire innings, all but confirming he will stay in the Test XI after an impressive debut at Lord’s.

Clarke spent a few overs off the field on Saturday, with David Warner taking the reins.

“He put a few of us in our place, which is always nice. I’m surprised he didn’t bowl himself,” Mitch Marsh laughed.

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