Sydney club probed for declaring early to give Clarke bat

Sydney club probed for declaring early to give Clarke bat
Australia's Michael Clarke plays a shot in the match against England in Manchester, on September 8, 2013

MELBOURNE - Michael Clarke's Sydney cricket club is being probed for declaring at 17-0 during a local game on Sunday and claiming it was to boost the injured Australian captain's chances of batting time before the first test against India next month.

Clarke is racing to be fit for the Dec. 4 opener in Brisbane, having re-injured his hamstring in a one-day international against South Africa in Perth just over a week ago.

His club Western Suburbs were sent in to bat against Parramatta after losing the toss, but declared after a few overs, with captain Jeff Cook saying it was to give Clarke the best chance to bat the following Saturday.

"All I wanted to do was the best for Michael Clarke and Australia," News Ltd media quoted Cook as saying.

"I stand by what I wanted to do," Cook said. "I might have sacrificed six first-innings points, but it would be fantastic for cricket if 2000 kids turned up to watch Michael try to prove a point to the Australian selectors."

State governing body Cricket New South Wales said it would investigate.

"While Cricket NSW and the Sydney Cricket Association are conscious of the broader interest of Australian cricket, and appreciate the thinking behind this gesture, we are also conscious of the need to main the integrity of the Sydney Grade competition," it said in a statement published by News Ltd.

"Consequently we will investigate the full facts and evaluate Wests' actions at the conclusion of the round."

Cook confirmed the probe and the veracity of the reports when contacted by Reuters, but declined to comment, saying he had been told not to while the investigation ran its course.

Cook told News Ltd he had briefed Parramatta on his plans before the toss, but after Western Sydney's early declaration, Parramatta also sprung a surprise by declaring at 140-2 midway through the afternoon.

After the Brisbane match, Australia play India in tests in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

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