Michael Clarke is not part of the 14-man Australia squad touring India for a limited-overs series, and Australia are comparing his absence to like India minus MS Dhoni.
Clarke's chronic back injury ruled him out of the tour, and Cricket Australia asked George Bailey to take over, after which they dialed Callum Ferguson asking him to join the ODI squad. But the think-tank of Bailey and coach Steve Rixon hinted it's not enough to fill Clark's void.
"You take Dhoni out, that probably answers your question," a candid Rixon told reporters ahead of the one-off Twenty in Rajkot on Thursday. Bailey also admitted that the team will miss their regular captain. "We would love to have Michael here," he said.
"You take Dhoni out, that probably answers your question," said Australia coach Steve Rixon when asked if Clarke's absence will hurt them in the ODI series.
Australia, who play return Ashes at home starting later this year, are worried about Clarke's back after he said "I don't know when I'll be back playing cricket."
"There is certainly no guarantee at this stage [of my return]," Sydney Morning Herald quoted Clarke as saying. "It's hard for me to say that because I'm trying my best not to look at it like that. I'm always positive. If you ask me I'll say, 'Oh, I'll be fit in a week's time'. But if you ask [team's physio] Alex [Kountouris], who knows me very well, I'd imagine he'd certainly say that there's doubt that I won't be right.
"Where I sit right now is I don't know when I'll be back playing cricket. We have no idea how long it's going to take," he said, putting a question mark over his ability for the full Ashes series.
Kountouris also sounded worried about Clarke's slow recovery. "Michael Clarke has a longstanding low back injury that requires ongoing management," he was quoted by ESPNCricinfo. "During the recent England ODI series, his injury flared up again and has been slow to improve with his regular treatment regime," Kountouris added.
But with Australia equating Clarke's absence to no Dhoni in India squad, it's quite apparent they don't feel confident going into the ODI series without their most consistent batsman.