Australia v South Africa, 1st Test, Brisbane, 4th day

Clarke, Cowan and Hussey dominate SA

The Report by Daniel Brettig

November 12, 2012

Comments: 236 | Text size: A | A

Australia 4 for 487 (Clarke 218*, Cowan 136, Hussey 86*, Morkel 2-109) lead South Africa 450 by 37 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details


Ed Cowan drives, Australia v South Africa, first Test, day four, Brisbane, November 12, 2012
Ed Cowan kept his head over the ball on the way to 136 © Getty Images
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On the same afternoon Australia rejoiced the confirmation of Ed Cowan as a genuine Test opening batsman, their prolific captain Michael Clarke squeezed South Africa with a merciless unbeaten 218 to give his side the psychological and tactical high ground after four days of the first Test.

Graeme Smith's side began the day in search of quick wickets to press for victory in Brisbane, but a first Test century of high accomplishment by Cowan smoothed the path for Clarke and Michael Hussey to run the tourists ragged in the final session. Australia piled up 181 runs after tea to close on 4 for 487, a lead of 37 with another extended day's play to follow.

Clarke's innings grew in command with every hour, and maintained his outstanding record of performance since assuming the national captaincy. His third Test score beyond 200 in 2012 made Clarke one of only three batsman to achieve the feat, joining Sir Donald Bradman and Ricky Ponting. Rare company indeed.

Cowan was considered by some to be under some pressure for his place entering this match, though the national selector John Inverarity had been highly supportive. That faith proved well founded, for Cowan produced exactly the sort of innings the team required. Scoring within his favoured zones and showing sound judgement of when to defend, this was a major step in Cowan's career, and also a poignant achievement a year to the day since the death of his mentor, Peter Roebuck.

Hussey's innings demonstrated how destructive his batting can be when runs are behind him, and in his busy running and pure driving he pushed tiring opponents to their limits. Before the series Inverarity had hoped Hussey was "due" for a strong series against South Africa after several poor ones, and he has made the ideal start.

The defusing of the touring bowlers was a tonic for the rest of Australia's batsmen, and the contempt with which they were treated at the finish by Clarke and Hussey will be sobering for Smith. Rory Kleinveldt and Vernon Philander gave up 19 no-balls between them, the latter's bowling notably nobbled on perhaps the flattest Test surface he has seen on so far. Steyn threatened intermittently, and Morkel's bounce did not diminish, but the employment of Smith and Hashim Amla as modest spinners conveyed a lack of variety in South Africa's attack.

In responding aggressively to a perilous position the night before, Cowan and Clarke had tilted momentum their way even before they emerged on the fourth morning. But they had to fight to build on that advantage early on. After a brief early flurry, runs came steadily rather than swiftly, Cowan pushing singles while Clarke punched a pair of delectable straight drives back past Steyn in between leaving plenty of deliveries wide of off stump.

Cowan had an uncomfortable moment when he cuffed past the stumps and down to the fine leg boundary while trying to leave Steyn, and Clarke was twice the beneficiary of good fortune when his unconvincing attempts at a sort of half-pull shot lobbed into the air but out of the reach of fielders.

Clarke looked ungainly against the short ball on more than one occasion, once taking his eye off a Steyn bouncer and gloving into the space between the stumps and the slips cordon. But he prospered in other areas, playing with a restraint that showed self-awareness of how important his wicket has become for Australia.

As the adjournment ticked closer Cowan reached the outskirts of a century, gaining four runs when the umpire Asad Rauf failed to detect Morkel's bouncer had skimmed straight off the batsman's helmet. He would go to the interval two runs short of a hundred, but happy to wait.

On resumption Cowan did not take long to gather those runs, pulling Philander powerfully to midwicket to pass three figures. His celebration was ebullient, but he also collected himself pointedly at the end of the over, regathering his focus to resume the task. At the other end Clarke had further troubles with the short ball, but unfurled a pair of crisp drives to close on his own century.

He reached the mark with a hurried single to backward point, and raised his bat for the sixth time since becoming Test captain and the second time in as many Gabba Tests. Clarke and Cowan's stand had by this time become the highest for the fourth wicket in all Tests between Australia and South Africa, blunting a visiting attack that had looked so daunting at the start of the innings.

Having seen off the second new ball, Cowan was dropped at fine leg when Steyn's path to the catch was distracted somewhat by Alviro Petersen's convergence. Ultimately Cowan would would not perish at the hand of any bowler. Instead he was run-out at the non-striker's end when Steyn deflected a Clarke drive onto the stumps - Cowan's penchant for backing up a long way reducing his chances of getting back in time. That dismissal brought Hussey to the crease, and he had a couple of nervy moments against Morkel before tea arrived.

There would be a few more plays and misses in the final session, but they were rare moments of consolation for South Africa as Hussey and Clarke streaked away. Hussey's cover driving was a particular highlight, while Clarke reached his double century with another pristine straight drive. By the close a draw was the most likely result, but Clarke, Cowan and Hussey had ensured that it will be the South Africans more likely to be sweating.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by ifrakurshid on (November 13, 2012, 12:52 GMT)

YES THE AUSITRILIAN CAPT. CLARKE COWN AND THE TRUSTED HUSSY OLD GUARD GAVE QUICK RUNS TO MAKE A IMPOSSIBLE VICTORY MATCH BY THEIR BATTING SKILLS BUT THIS IS ONCE IN A BLOOM CANNOT BE REPEATED TIME AN AGAIN AMLA AND COMPANY ARE IN GREAT TOUCH WITH LITTLE SUPPORT FROM THEIR PACERS MAY FIND AUSSIES IN HOT WATERS NEXT TIME. SOUTH AFRICA ON PAPER IS A BETTER OUT FIT CURRENTLY ONLY HOME ADVANTAGE IS WITH THE HOST AN OUT SIDE CHANCE FOR OTHER NON PLAYING INFLUNCEABLE FORCES MAY COME INTO PLAY IF SA IS DECLARED FAVOURITES FOR THE NEXT GAME.

Posted by Meety on (November 13, 2012, 4:16 GMT)

@Spelele on (November 12 2012, 15:10 PM GMT) - mate, you've lost the plot! Clarke's "nick" was clearly proven a couple of overs later by Snicko as not being an edge. The sound occurred BEFORE the ball reached the bat! As for the standard of umpiring, it has been spot on - all game. The interpretation of UDRS is a bit questionable, but there have been + & - for both sides. Barry Richards, (as in great Saffa lagend), reckoned that Amla should of been given out, IF common sense prevailed AND he felt the Siddle no-ball should of been out too! From that POV, you'd have to say Cowan was out on 49. There was no proof that Clarke hit any of the appeals against him. So I have no idea (neither do others) of what "nick" you are talking about!

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 2:03 GMT)

Lets not forget SA played the whole game with 10 men... without one of their important batsmen and bowlers and still posted 450 not like Aus exactly rolled them over is it?? this match was going to be a draw ever since end of day 1.

Posted by disco_bob on (November 13, 2012, 1:09 GMT)

Looks like Smith can't even play on a 'road', what does that say about their captain.

Posted by mahjut on (November 13, 2012, 0:58 GMT)

discobob ... now is the time to bash the attack (that crowds the top rankings and keeps the team at number 1) becasue they won't always have to bowl on the 4th day of a pitch realising that a win is pretty much ouit the question and therefore incentive goes out the window. I've seen this from SA before (vs PK in UAE) and was bored silly. this test tells us that Clarke has very good durability and almost nothing else... a bit of a shame (and SA will probably lose a few wickets as is form when one teasm is fired up but OZ win!??? i just can't see that)

Posted by mahjut on (November 13, 2012, 0:54 GMT)

ChristianG - yes everyone noticed the RR ... did you notice that the outfield was much slower during the SA innings and there was cloud cover throughout...the sun came up on cue when SA lost their last wicket. Apart from maybe 7-12 overs it's not been a challenge batting for OZ (and Sa gave up pretty quick ... or in any case did not bowl with vigour thereafter). that was more telling for me i think

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 0:23 GMT)

Are these guys playing on subcontinent pitches?

Posted by hycIass on (November 13, 2012, 0:23 GMT)

Aus batting stocks looking good with Cowan, Clarke and with the likes of Khawaja, Burns and Doolan pushing for spots.

Posted by one-eyed-but-keepinitreal on (November 12, 2012, 23:26 GMT)

Fifteen out of the nineteen matches that Michael Clarke has scored centuries in, prior to the current, have been decided. Australia have won thirteen and lost two (including the match where the next two completed innings did not surpass his first innings total). How many of the true flat track bullies can say that 79% of their centuries were in a decided test match? Should drop to a paltry 75% today, but.............?

Posted by MinusZero on (November 12, 2012, 23:11 GMT)

Cowan is a traditional opener. A run compiler, not an ODI turned test player like Watson and Warner. Its what the top order needs.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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