Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke

Australia captain Michael Clarke will play in the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka despite hamstring concerns with the tourists winning the toss and electing to bat.

The 31-year-old was in serious doubt for the showpiece event on the Australian cricket calendar after straining his right hamstring in the first Test against Sri Lanka nine days ago.

Clarke played out the remainder of the match in Hobart, only moving when he had to as he fielded at first slip, while he was forced to retire hurt when batting.

The skipper who has passed 200 on four separate occasions with the bat in an outstanding 2012 was put through his paces by team physio Alex Kountouris this week and after getting through a net session on Christmas Eve, it appeared as if he had done enough.

But insiders were still cautious over Clarke's involvement in the Test until his name was confirmed on Australia's teamsheet on Wednesday morning.

Joining Clarke in the XI is debutant Jackson Bird, who received his baggy green cap from former Australian captain Bill Lawry.

Bird who is the 431st player to represent Australia in Test cricket won selection after taking 80 wickets in 14 Sheffield Shield matches for Tasmania at a sublime average of 17.5.

Play will begin at 10:30 (AEST) with an expected crowd of over 60,000 set to attend the opening day.


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