The best-of-five series is tied at 1-1 going into the decider at the Ageas Bowl, yet Aussie coach Darren Lehmann insists that star batsman Clarke will not play if his back problem has returned as feared.
“It’s a big game but if he’s not right, we won’t risk him,” Lehmann said. “It’s an important series but we’ve got another one-day series and an Ashes series coming up.”
The tourists travel to India next month for a seven-match ODI series preceded by one Twenty20, before – due to a unique situation with the international calendar – the second Ashes series of the year begins in Brisbane on 21 November.
Having lost the first Ashes series of the year and drawn the subsequent two-match Twenty20 series, Australia could shake up their side today in a final bid to claim some glory from the summer. Opener Phil Hughes is expected to come in for the injured Shaun Marsh, while spinner Fawad Ahmed could be in contention for a return.