Clarke overcomes back blues

AUSTRALIAN captain Michael Clarke provided the national selectors with some relief yesterday, scoring 88 for New South Wales on day one of the Blues' opening Sheffield Shield game against Tasmania in Blacktown.

Clarke  was forced to sit out Australia's current one-day tour of India due to persistent back problems but looked comfortable in the middle yesterday.

Clarke lasted 190 balls and belted eight fours as he played shots all around the ground.

Despite his handy innings, the Blues could only manage 8-280, with only fellow Test batsman Steve Smith (42), and Scott Henry (48) offering some assistance.

Sam Rainbird, in just his second first-class game, claimed 5-60, including the prized scalps of Clarke, Smith and all-rounder Steven O'Keefe (three).

Test hopeful Ben Hilfenhaus finished with 1-44.

Australian opener David Warner was his only victim after he was caught and bowled for 21.

Ryan Carters (33) and Nathan Lyon (four), in his first game for the Blues, are the not-out batsmen.


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