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Clarke may not take part in Champions League


Stand in Australian skipper Michael Clarke is unsure whether he will be able to play for NSW in the multimillion dollar Champions League due to the busy international schedule.

Clarke would not be able get a lengthy rest this year if he plays in the October competition, which immediately follows the Champions Trophy in South Africa and precedes a seven-match one-day series against India.

He has told CricketNSW that he will assess his fitness closer to the start of the Champions League, and it would be a severe blow should he pull out, with a $US3 million first prize at stake.

Injured wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, all-rounder Shane Watson and Clarke are the only NSW players regularly committed to all three forms of the game for Australia, although Watson is ineligible for the Champions League because he signed with the Blues after they had already qualified.

The Champions League will be played among the top domestic Twenty20 teams, with Indian Premier League sides Deccan, Delhi and Bangalore joining NSW and Victoria, and teams from South Africa, England, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Trinidad & Tobago.

"For me, the Champions League is a long way away, I'm concentrating on these two Twenty20s and then the one-dayers here, and then the Champions Trophy in South Africa, for my country, representing Australia at the moment," Clarke said.

"When it gets closer to the Champions League I think I'll have more focus on that. We've got a lot of cricket before that."

Clarke added that should he feel tired, it would be better for NSW to choose a fresh youngster than "a tired Michael Clarke".

But he remained hopeful of taking part, and did not expect players who missed out to be jealous, despite the massive amounts of money on offer.

"I think it's been the case throughout my whole career, I was playing first-class cricket and the international players would come back, I'd go back to club cricket," Clarke said. "That's part of [cricket] with having international players in your squad.

"When you've got guys who represent the country and they come back to state it's unfortunate that guys miss out, but we're pretty lucky we can still take 15 guys to the Champions League, so I'm sure NSW will have a strong squad."

CricketNSW chief executive David Gilbert has previously said prizemoney would be divided among squad members, but there would probably be more for those who performed better.

Haddin is recovering from surgery for a broken finger and is expected to resume playing in four to six weeks, with his manager Peter Lovitt saying he was concentrating on being available for the Champions League.

His participation in the one-day Champions Trophy remains in doubt.

The Australian team has been in England since late May preparing for the World Twenty20, and will leave in late September for the Champions Trophy.

From South Africa, the NSW and Victorian players will fly to India for the Champions League. They will then be joined by Australian teammates for the one-day series.

After a week's break, they will return to the practice pitch in Australia for the home summer which finishes next March, and is then followed by the IPL and World Twenty20 tournaments.

Meanwhile, Clarke remains convinced 50-over cricket will survive in the long term despite England's move to scrap domestic one-day matches. The England and Wales Cricket Board has said it would introduce 40-over games next season instead, and Clarke believes it could jeopardise the team's chances in major one-day events.

"They've obviously got reasons behind that, that is their concern," Clarke said of England's decision. "I think 50-over cricket will stay in Australia in our domestic competition, I'm very confident it will stay at the international level.

"They've got so much cricket on, they probably thought that was the one for them to get rid of. I'm certain it will stay at the international level, my only worry is how it will affect England playing one-day cricket.

"Going forward, I don't know how it's all going to work but I still see opportunity for all three forms. If that means you might play one less one-dayer and two more Twenty20s ... I've got no idea what they're going to do there but I'm certain all three forms will continue to grow."

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