Australia v India, 2nd Test, Sydney, 3rd day January 5, 2012

'We're starting to see the real Michael Clarke' - Taylor

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Michael Clarke's unbeaten 329, and the manner of its conclusion, have made "enormous inroads" for him to be respected by all in Australia and beyond, former captain Mark Taylor has said. Having made a similarly significant score and declaration when unbeaten on 334 against Pakistan in Peshawar in 1998, Taylor believed Clarke would have very few detractors left after spending time as a polarising figure when vice-captain to Ricky Ponting.

It should not be forgotten that Taylor's own successful tenure as captain of Australia was preceded by a period of doubts about his capabilities. Allan Border's deputy, Taylor, had his fitness, batting style and suitability for one-day cricket questioned, and was even dropped to 12th-man duties at the conclusion of a poor summer against West Indies in 1992-93. However he flourished when granted the captaincy in 1994, and said Clarke had made a similar graduation.

"You earn respect by the gestures and what you do in the game, the way you play the game," Taylor said. "I think all these things will really help Michael Clarke. But I really think since he's become the full-time captain, we're now starting to see who Michael Clarke really is.

"I think up to that stage, when you're vice-captain, particularly when you're vice-captain to a guy like Ricky who has been around for so long, been such a good player, captained three in World Cups, it's hard to do the vice captaincy job right and keep everyone happy. In fact it's impossible. I think a lot of people focused on the negatives of Michael Clarke, but now he is the main man and I think we're starting to see the real Michael Clarke."

As a Cricket Australia board director, Taylor was one of the power-brokers who approved Clarke's ascension to the captaincy, while as part of the Argus review panel he has played a key role in building the new support structure around him. He said Clarke had always shown a genuine love of and flair for the game, but it was only now as captain that many in the public could take notice of this.

"I think he's made enormous inroads this summer and I'm delighted to see it because personally, I've always been a big supporter of Michael Clarke," Taylor said. "I've seen for a number years what people are now seeing from Michael Clarke. He's a guy who loves the game of cricket and I don't think people have quite understood that with Michael.

"He had an opportunity to make the world Test record today, there's no doubt about that. He needed another 72 to break the record. He could've done that and still had two days to bowl India out and win this Test match. He could've achieved both goals but what he wanted to say is 'yes, I want to do well myself, every player does and that's human nature, but I want to captain a side that's going to win first' and that's a very important thing to have."

In Peshawar, Taylor spent a night unbeaten on Don Bradman's 334 before deciding to declare, and said Clarke's innings and its circumstances brought back plenty of memories. In any innings of that magnitude the batsman can become locked into a "zone" of timing and concentration, where it is their own fatigue and lack of a clear goal that can dismiss them as much as any bowler.

"Having watched Michael today, you get to the stage when you get to 200 plus where you are really in that zone Greg Norman [the golfer] talked about," Taylor said. "Every ball is hitting the middle of your bat and I couldn't see him getting out, to me I only experienced it once in my career and that was in Peshawar on the second day.

"Michael hopefully - he is a younger man than I was - will get a chance to experience it again, because it took me right until the end of my career to get to that stage. It's [about] continuing to look for some reason to keep going, because the first thing you are told as a batsman is to get a 100 … then you get to 200 and you think 'I've now got a big 100 - how many more do I get?'

"That's when people often dong one up in the air or play a shot they haven't played for two or three hours. Michael kept going all the way and it was only the first ball after he got to 300 that he had a big flash at a wide one. That's the one you could easily nick and be out for 303 and look back on that one ball as the only time you didn't concentrate for ages. That can happen when you get to a score like that and you start getting tired."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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  • dummy4fb on January 6, 2012, 9:22 GMT

    Clark next Australian Prime Minister

  • dummy4fb on January 6, 2012, 6:58 GMT

    I would like to see Michael Clarke play this type of knock away from Australia. Scoring against bowling attack like India is not a great achievement and that too on flat track. I appreciate that clarke had declared Australian innings as early as possible without looking for his 400 runs. But he should have gone for that 400 runs because all Australian bowlers need is good 100 overs to remove India batsmen comfortable.

  • Meety on January 6, 2012, 6:46 GMT

    @nulla - oh well you can't pls them all! @rahulcricket007 - LOL! That's the funniest thing I've ever heard! (Well not quite, but it's rather weird logic!). Clarke taking 8 years to get a TRIPLE test ton & not being much good must means that Tendulkar is crud for taking 20 years to never get one! LOL! LOL! Fact - it took SRT 10 years to get his first double ton AGAINST NZ, & he followed up with another against ZIMBABWE.His highest Test score is against BANGLADESH! His 241 against Oz is the only decent BIG score SRT has EVER got in Tests! On your logic Clarke > Sachin!!!!! Well unless of course you think India are worse than Zimbabwe, NZ & Bangladesh that is! LOL!!!!! Cricinfo pls publish!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ygkd on January 6, 2012, 6:12 GMT

    Read in the media today that apparently Clark is not liked as much as his former captain because he's middle class and Ponting is working class. Sounds a workable theory, but then, if you think about it, other facts sort of get in the way. Clark is from Liverpool in Sydney's working class western suburbs and Ponting is the fast-tracked nephew of one of the (then) few Tasmanian holders of a baggy green. So which one is priviledged and which one just worked hard? Or should both be treated equally because neither has been more priviledged or harder working than the other?

  • donda on January 6, 2012, 6:00 GMT

    Man o Man, Clarke just did the most humble thing in cricket by declaring at that point. This man is clever, shrewd and intelligent, he just earned the respect of every cricket loving fan in the world by not going for world record.

    Classic example how a cricket who grow up in a great system under great captain and then become a great leader.

    This gesture by Clarke is a gesture of a leader. Who don't care about himself but the team and winning.

    Awesome dude. Clarke is player of the year 2012 already.

  • dms1972 on January 6, 2012, 5:57 GMT

    @rahulcricket007, interesting observation about how long it took Michael Clarke to score his first double century. It took Tendulkar 10 years of Test cricket before he scored his first double century.

  • dummy4fb on January 6, 2012, 5:55 GMT

    My best wishes to Micheal Clarke. Australia started the series as under-dogs. They hardly had anything to boast. Australia began 2011 as a fading force. Not very comprehensive series- just 1-0 in SL,1-1 in SA,1-1 v NZ. I felt if they barely manage to square/win a series against these sides. Then what's in store v India. India are coming off a confident series win v England at home where they unraveled Umesh Yadav as a new pace kid and so was R.Ashwin succesful against WI. Really felt It'll be advantage India with all the hype about legendary batting lineup and new look bowling attack. Even when in MCG,India looked like they would snatch the victory. But Hussey and Ponting played brilliantly..they were not in good form...both of them under firing ....Fine 89 in MCG by Hussey and 60 by Ponting. They just managed to set a target..but Clarke was great with his field and tactics. India could not chase 292 in seaming conditions though boasting a world-class batting lineup.

  • John_Geo on January 6, 2012, 3:40 GMT

    What a lesson to Asian cricketers who worship individual milestones over team achievements. I hope particularly the Indian cricketers hear this message well. It is a blessing to see in a world where people blindly chase 100th hundred or 1000th test wicket, there are also those who not only say but endeavour to prove for every selfish envoy, there is a dedicated leader. Among those who crave for selling their brawn and brain to the highest bidder, there are those few who never put a price tag on his heart and soul. Well done Clark - we need many more of your sort in cricket and the world would have been a far better place with leaders of your calibur.

  • Naresh28 on January 5, 2012, 23:59 GMT

    REALLY GREAT to watch all three Australian batsman. Loved the Hussey cover drive. The Ponting hook. The Clarke bat speed, footwork,confidence and strokes. Here are three in the best of form against a poor bowling attack. INDIAN FAN

  • dummy4fb on January 5, 2012, 22:55 GMT

    @nulla has he created the image that you are prepared to let him bat for your life? Probably not but making 329* after India was bowled out for 191 and Australia was 3/37 showed he is well on the way to show the Australia public that he can be.

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