The World Cup, to be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand, begins February 14 and before that the squad named on Sunday will play in the tri-series against India and England starting January 16.

Clarke, who is battling a nagging hamstring problem besides back spasms, will lead the Australian team in the World Cup only, that too if he passes the fitness test.

"Captain Michael Clarke will lead our World Cup campaign should he recover from his injury. He is one of the world's best batsmen and we want to give him every chance to prove his fitness for a tournament as important as this one," National Selector Rod Marsh said in a statement.

"Our medical staff are pleased with his progress following hamstring surgery in December and he continues to undergo thorough rehabilitation work with a view to being ready to play an important role in the World Cup.

"We have said that if Michael has not recovered by our second match of the tournament against Bangladesh on 21 February, we will replace him in the squad. He understands that and is working tirelessly with medical staff to get back to fitness," he added.

The standby player for Clarke, who has gone to the extent of casting doubts on his cricketing future after the latest breakdown, has not been named as yet. George Bailey would captain the side in his absence.

"This group has played a major role in getting Australia back to number one in ODI cricket and we feel we have the right mix of players to represent our country on the biggest stage of all," Marsh said.

"These players have really gelled over the past 18 months with their preparation geared towards giving us the best chance of winning a World Cup on home soil."

Marsh said Western Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh is on track to be fit for the start of the World Cup.

"Mitchell is progressing well with his rehab and we expect him to be available at some stage during the Tri Series with the aim to have him well prepared for the World Cup."

Xavier Doherty has been selected as the squad's specialist spinner for the tournament.

"Xavier is a reliable spin bowler who we know can perform well in the 50-over format. We also have other spin options in Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith and Michael Clarke if required," Marsh said.

Australia are aiming to claim a record fifth World Cup after winning the tournament in India in 1987, England in 1999, South Africa in 2003 and the West Indies in 2007.

Australia begin their ICC Cricket World Cup campaign against England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on February 14.

The squad: Michael Clarke (captain), George Bailey (vice-captain), Pat Cummins, Xavier Doherty, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson.

Latest News from Sports News Desk