Not a token tour for Clarke

  • Last Updated: August 24 2014, 19:21 BST

Australia will be without captain Michael Clarke when they return to one-day international cricket for the first time in more than six months when they take on Zimbabwe in the opening match of the tri-series in Harare.

Michael Clarke: Misses out with a hamstring injury
Michael Clarke: Misses out with a hamstring injury

Clarke was rated as a significant doubt for the opening match due to a hamstring injury and a fitness test has revealed the 33-year-old was not ready to play his first professional match since March 5, when he led Australia to a Test series win over South Africa.

Australian coach and selector Darren Lehmann said: "Michael had a fitness test at training today and unfortunately hasn't come through that well enough to be available for selection in game one.

"He will continue intensive treatment on his hamstring and we'll monitor his progress ahead of game two on Wednesday."

Australia have not dipped their toes into the 50-over format since adding ODI series victory over England to their Ashes trouncing of the 2013/14 tourists.

But the number one-ranked team are about to begin the journey in earnest to a home World Cup next winter and Clarke earlier made no bones about how seriously they will be taking the assignment against Zimbabwe and South Africa.

The skipper told ESPN Cricinfo: "This is not a token tour. It's about winning.

"I'm certainly not there to give guys an opportunity. I'm there to win."

Australia will definitely be without all-rounder Shane Watson while their damaging opener David Warner is on paternity leave.

That presents a likely opportunity for the in-form Phil Hughes to return on the back of a prolific run of scores for Australia A.

Clarke's men still have a fearsome attack led by Mitchell Johnson and his fellow left-armers Mitchell Starc and James Faulkner.

A bigger test may well await them two days later at the same venue against South Africa, for whom frontline pace pair Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are set to return.

Zimbabwe face an especially daunting task against opponents they have beaten just once in ODIs - and that more than 30 years in the 1983 World Cup, in England.

After their recent series defeat against South Africa, the hosts are expected to recall linchpin opener Brendan Taylor.