Australian captain Michael Clarke will not figure in the two tour games ahead of the first Test beginning here on February 22 if he has any discomfort from a strained hamstring.

Steve Rixon, Australia’s fielding and spin bowling coach, said here on Saturday that his team would not take any chances with the fitness of cricketers.

Clarke suffered the injury during the ODI series against the West Indies.

Vice-captain Shane Watson, too, is grappling with fitness concerns on his return to the side from a calf injury.

Rixon revealed: “He will not bowl in the first Test.” So, the all-rounder Watson will figure in the opening Test of the four-match series as a pure batsman.

Asked it the visitors were viewing Sachin Tendulkar as a major threat in view of his recent indifferent form in Test matches, Rixon said: “You must have plans for greatness. And he is still a great player.”

Rixon, who oversaw an intense training session of eight Australian cricketers at Chepauk on Saturday morning, said the tour would be a test for the side’s rather inexperienced spin attack.

“Nathan Lyon is a young off-spinner who is doing well.

“He has a chance to be better on this tour,” Rixon said.

Praise for Maxwell

Off-spinning all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, bought for $1 million at the IPL auction, was rated promising by Rixon.

“He’s obviously excited by the amount he went for. It also puts a lot of pressure on him to perform. He is aware of the expectations,” Rixon said.

In the same breath, Rixon added pace would still be the side’s strength.

“On pitches with variable bounce, pace could be as destructive as spin,” he said.

Rixon said he was pleased with the scheduling of the series. “I want to congratulate the authorities. The way this series has been planned, we are playing the first two Tests in the Southern part of India when the weather here is good.

“It can get pretty humid here from the middle of next month. And North India, which is rather cold now, will be pleasant when we play the next two Tests there,” he said.

Rixon said he was confident that the Aussies would have 11 fit cricketers for the first tour game, a two-day match against the Board President’s XI starting on Tuesday.

“The Australians have been playing a lot of cricket in the shorter version of the game, and will have to get into the right frame of mind for the longer format,” he said.

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