100 Tests at the SCG January 2, 2012

Clarke pays respects to his home ground


Michael Clarke once said he would play cricket every day of the year if he could do so at the SCG. Though he did not make the all-time Australian XI compiled to mark the SCG's 100th Test, Clarke's story and technique are steeped in the history of the ground. His feet dance in accordance with the assistance on offer to the best spin bowlers, and his use of the crease both forward and back was fostered by the variety of fast and slow men who tried their luck on a surface with more subcontinental echoes than any other in Australia.

With this in mind, it is fitting that Clarke will lead Australia in the second Test against India, on a ground where he made his name and then enhanced it with strong showings as both a batsman and an occasional left-arm orthodox bowler. Intriguingly Clarke's record in Tests is curiously muted, having made only one century, against South Africa in 2009. But his love of the place is clear.

"I know we love playing here, I know I love playing here," Clarke said. "It's a great ground, it's my favourite to play and we've had a lot of success here at the SCG, so we're confident walking out onto that ground. It doesn't guarantee anything, but we're playing in front of our home crowd, for a lot of the guys it's their home ground as New South Welshmen and we're excited about this second Test match, it's a great time of year as well obviously to be playing Test cricket.

"It's nice to be playing at my home ground I guess and obviously the chance to captain Australia is very special in the 100th Test match here as well, so I think that will sink in over the next 24 hours. It's been quite a busy period from Melbourne, coming back here we've had a lot of stuff on, a lot of training, but over the next 24 hours I think the nerves will certainly kick in in regards to playing in another Test match at the SCG in front of my family and friends and now having the chance to captain here is certainly an honour and a privilege."

In his time at the SCG, Clarke has witnessed its character change from that of the slow turners of the 1990s into the more rounded, classical surface engineered by the curator Tom Parker in recent seasons. Those characteristics are in line with those loved by players of the 1950s and '60s, offering help to batsmen, quicks and spin bowlers in far more equal measure than when Clarke first visited.

"Conditions have probably changed a little bit over the last few years, no doubt the way I was brought up on this wicket it was spin conducive wasn't it," Clarke said. "I faced a lot of spin as a kid, I'd seen a fair bit of reverse swing at a young age and generally this wicket is a little bit slower than say Perth and Brisbane and what we've just seen in Melbourne.

"It encouraged me to move down the wicket to the spinners, no doubt, mainly because the ball spun so much and I wanted to get as close to it as I could before it spun too much. It's probably helped the way I play spin bowling, I've got to pay credit to the SCG.

"But the last couple of years it's quickened up a bit, there's been enough there for the bowlers, swing and seam and you need to try and adapt to that, but I think it certainly feels like my home ground. The way I play I guess is very similar to the conditions I've faced, from an 18-year-old boy until only until the last couple of years it's probably changed."

A panel comprising Jim Maxwell, Mike Coward, Phil Derriman, Gideon Haigh, Phil Wilkins, Malcolm Conn, Warwick Franks, Andrew Leeming, Malcolm Knox, and the SCG Trust chairman Rodney Cavalier, selected Australia and World teams from those who have graced the ground over its 100 Tests. Three men about to play in this match, Ricky Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, were chosen in the teams.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 3, 2012, 7:58 GMT

    I don't know why India keeps committing the same mistake of batting first on wickets that have some juice on the first day morning. In all such occasions our batting has come a cropper and the opposition gets to bat on day 2 and 3 when the wicket is at its best. Another aspect is that our bowling can perform only when the conditions are good for it and what better than the first session when there is something in the wicket. It would be fair to say that while on the bowling department both sides are near equal their batting is able to manage our bowling. I very much doubt whether this Indian team can survive against our own attack.One of our stars Laxman has failed for 11 innings in a row and we are not in a position to even consider replacing him. Gambhir and Kohli have again shown how vulnerable they are to the ball that moves near the off stump. Bad luck to Sachin for getting out to a loose shot. e

  • Mick on January 3, 2012, 3:25 GMT

    PLEASE PEOPLE!!!! Read the article before spewing your mindless comments!!!!! These are SCG 11s. Hence, based on performances at the S...C...G. So fed up with this 'my favourite player isn't included' rubbish. On a more positive note, I've spent many days/nights at this grand ground watching NSW/AUS cricket and my beloved Sydney Swans football team. Love the place. I love going too MCG to for pure size but SCG is dripping with history. Long may it continue!!!!

  • jason on January 3, 2012, 1:13 GMT

    2nd best stadium in sydney with out a doubt. 2nd only to Bear park (north sydney oval), which contains a bit of the old SCG anyway.

  • Dummy4 on January 2, 2012, 18:19 GMT

    No Allan Border no wasim akram no murulitharan no brain lara ?

  • Dummy4 on January 2, 2012, 18:06 GMT

    lara should be there instead of laxman at least...in world XI and in Aus XI ...why no allan border? surprising but devid boon is there...

  • Leonard on January 2, 2012, 17:10 GMT

    To Suchita Kumar

    I played grade cricket with Steve Waugh but Steve would be the first to tell you that Greg Chappell was a far better batsman then he. As for performances at the SCG, Greg's record is excellent and far better than Steve's.

  • Dummy4 on January 2, 2012, 14:54 GMT

    were is the name of Brain Lara who loved the ground and has score there many runs

  • Dummy4 on January 2, 2012, 13:56 GMT

    com on guys they are talking bout the SCG XI... its purely on the basis those who perform at SCG... Mc Grawth must have perform better the hillie at SCG & Dravid is not an outstanding player at SCG..........

  • Dummy4 on January 2, 2012, 12:43 GMT

    Beautiful stadium.....I want a repeat of 2003 final test at SCG with sachin scoring 300 runs......but this time I want India to win :)

  • OMER on January 2, 2012, 10:53 GMT

    Anil Kumble as your main spinner, u must be joking!!

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