Australia v South Africa, 1st Test, Brisbane, 5th day

Clarke's positivity rubs off on Australia

Michael Clarke has instilled into his own side that it is possible to win from any situation. The attacking mindset was personified by James Pattinson's fiery spell, for example

Brydon Coverdale in Brisbane

November 13, 2012

Comments: 49 | Text size: A | A

Michael Clarke reached his third double century in 2012, Australia v South Africa, 1st Test, 4th day, Brisbane, November 12, 2012
Michael Clarke: "We can certainly use the momentum that we take from this game and hopefully take it into Adelaide" © Getty Images

Over the past five days at the Gabba, Australia and South Africa played out the first draw between the sides in their past 14 Tests. The rain on the second day didn't prevent Michael Clarke from trying to fashion a route to victory. And in a four-day game on one of the flattest, slowest Australian pitches in recent years, that his men went so close to achieving that goal was a remarkable effort.

It also said much about the way the Australians approach the game under Clarke's leadership. Though he was never captain of Australia's Test team, Shane Warne always believed Australia could win, from virtually any position. Clarke admires Warne's mindset and has instilled it into his own side. Since he took over as full-time captain, the only match Australia have drawn that was not rain-affected was the game that gave Australia a series victory in Colombo last year. They have lost only two Tests, and won nine.

After the first day, which brought only two wickets, the Australians not only lifted, they showed an intent that the South African camp seemed to lack. Ed Cowan played his strokes and with Clarke rebuilt from a perilous 3 for 40, and when their monster partnership was broken, Michael Hussey ensured the tempo did not slip. From a position of South African dominance, the match turned firmly in Australia's favour.

While he was compiling his third double-century this year, Clarke's mind was active. How can we win this? Do we declare behind and challenge Graeme Smith to set us a target? Should we push on, build a lead and put South Africa's batsmen under pressure? The runs came so quickly that Clarke decided on the latter approach, giving his bowlers most of the final day to do their work. They claimed five wickets, but ultimately time beat them.

"I thought it was going to be tough if we had to chase 250 or 280 on that wicket on the last day," Clarke said. "I thought our best chance of winning, especially the way Michael Hussey was playing and scoring quite quickly last night, was to get a lead, come out this morning and be as positive as we could, and then give ourselves enough time in the game to take nine wickets. Unfortunately we didn't have enough time.

"The boys deserve a lot of credit for their attitudes more than anything else. Our intent was the way it needs to be when you're playing against such a good team. I think the way Ed Cowan and Michael Hussey batted, they certainly showed that intent and our attitude was spot on today with the ball. We were quite aggressive with our approach ... We can certainly use the momentum that we take from this game and hopefully take it into Adelaide."

Australia's attacking mindset was personified by James Pattinson on the final day. In a spell full of venom and verbal aggression, Pattinson was infuriated by Smith pulling away as a bird flew across the pitch with Pattinson in his delivery stride. Pattinson told Smith what he thought in no uncertain terms, and sent down a searing bouncer next ball, and it was the start of short but fiery contest between the two men.

It didn't take Pattinson long to have his man. Coming around the wicket, he enticed a loose shot from Smith, whose edge flew to gully. A pumped-up Pattinson gave Smith a send-off of sorts, but Clarke had no problem with the aggression showed by his young fast bowler. Pattinson collected five wickets for the match, the most by any Australian bowler, and he is rapidly making himself the spearhead of Australia's attack.

"Patto knows the rules," Clarke said. "Like all the bowlers, I think the aggression, the intent is a big part of the way we play our best cricket. I certainly don't want to stop that. But we understand there's a line and you can go to the line but you can't overstep it. Simple as that.

"Patto's enjoying being out there and playing, being on the park. I've said for a while we've got plenty of talent, it's now about performance with the ball. It's about guys being fit and firing at the right time. This is a great test for our quicks. We're playing against a very good batting team, as we did against India last summer. It's been a good start for us, especially after day one."

Day one certainly wasn't a good start for the Australians. But there is no question they will fly out of Brisbane with more reasons for positivity than their rivals. And as Clarke knows, positive thinking is half the battle.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by MagpieForever on (November 15, 2012, 2:42 GMT)

One unusual thing that hasn't been said yet about Clarke as a leader is the way the team now seems to actually have fun while they play - I think I even saw Ricky laugh! I can remember watching during Chappell/AB times when not a smile all day. Everyone either too cool or terrified. Clarke seems to have brought in idea of time of my life-may as well try to enjoy - good for young kids to see. Maybe thats why he didnt squeeze out the last few overs. Harks of Keith Miller and the WW2 Messerschmitt story. I know - test is when they lose a few and the shock horror media get involved.

Posted by pat_one_back on (November 14, 2012, 8:29 GMT)

@Aussassinator, intriguing insights, Harmy was a danger alright, occasionally to opposition batsmen even. Interested in whom you think out there actually plays chin music off a good length well??? Yet to see anyone I could say was comfortable with the 'brute' ball off a length since the Great AB. In all fairness to Harmy he was unplayable on his day, Ambrose like, pity those days were too few, the best and worst of fast bowling was always a possibility.

Posted by Meety on (November 14, 2012, 6:18 GMT)

@dunger.bob on (November 14 2012, 02:34 AM GMT) - I think it was also he was "ordained" by Steve Waugh as a future Ozzy captain before he'd even racked up a year of FC cricket. Also, he got into the Oz team fairly quickly - that he said he nailed a ton on debut!

Posted by Ross_Co on (November 14, 2012, 3:24 GMT)

@Aussasinator - that certainly is a story, mostly fictional however I'm afraid. By all means the saffa bowlers should talk to Flintoff - if they want to learn how to lose 5-nil that is. Even in the last ashes series - the one where 'England' actually played better than Australia - Oz won the game on the fastest pitch by an innings. Doesn't exactly point to a weakness against fast bowling. If anything, Oz have proven vulnerable to medium paced swing and have eaten fast bowlers not of the highest class such as Harmison for breakfast.

Posted by dunger.bob on (November 14, 2012, 2:34 GMT)

I agree with Captain_Oblivious. I think half the problem was due to Clarke being such a contradictory sort of person. He looks, speaks and acts like a blue blood from Rose Bay but he is actually a product of the rough and tough Western suburbs. He generally has a smile on his face and seems benign, but those in the know say that he rules that dressing room with an iron fist (just ask Simon Katich, he might have some stories to tell). He looks like a vain, dumb clotheshorse but has a very astute cricket brain and isn't afraid to use it. I could go on and on, but hopefully you get the idea. Traditionally Aussie captains haven't been what you would call "complicated". There are a few exceptions (Mark Taylor, Richie Benaud, maybe Greg Chappell) but generally they have been more in the Steve Waugh, Allan border, Ian Chappell mould.

Posted by Captain_Oblivious on (November 14, 2012, 0:53 GMT)

It's amazing how much more popular Michael Clarke has become over the last 12 months in Australia. He was very unfairly ostrasised by a conservative, 1950's style cricket community that prefers 'blokey' guys over well-groomed, metrosexuals. I always liked Clarke because of the way he plays the game, but even I didn't think in my wildest dreams he'd be this successful as a batsman and captain. I always thought Australia needed a Border-like character to lead the team through these tough times, but he's well and truly exceeded expectations with what is still a fairly average group of players IMO. Look, South Africa may still win this series given they have a far better team on paper, but Clarke is a true leader of men.

Posted by funkybluesman on (November 13, 2012, 22:03 GMT)

Michael Clarke is the ultimate team player who values runs that help his team. I thought it was classic the way he didn't even realise he'd brought up his 250 initially, because he was totally focussed on the team position and not on his own score.

A telling statistic is that his 100 came from 210 balls, and from then on he scored 159 from 188 balls. He knew they had to be aggressive to set up a match and really pushed it. In contrast, South Africa at no point in their first innings ever accelerated their scoring rate. Kallis 100 from 168 balls, then scored a further 47 from 106 balls. So while he actually reached his hundred quicker (while Clarke was more circumspect coming from a position of 3/40) he actually scored slower after reaching his hundred at a time when South Africa had to be trying for some quick runs.

Posted by Aussasinator on (November 13, 2012, 20:39 GMT)

i distinctly remember how Steve Harmison had simply destroyed Clarke during one of the Ashes in the course of an over when Clarke could not even duck or fend his rising deliveries properly. They all rose from the good length spot and on the stump line. That is also the storyof the Pontings, Husseys and warners. Its just that the bowlers have to adopt that aggressive line and not bowl to the strengths of the Aussie batsmen.Ponting of course has been sorted out long ago but if SA has to win this time, they need aggression against warner, Clarke and Hussey.They are all weak against fast, into-the- body line of bowling. A chat with Flintoff or Shoab Akhthar will help, though Steyn and Morkel already know it. Just that they are not implementing the aggression.

Posted by kirands on (November 13, 2012, 19:08 GMT)

Michael Clarke's batting and captaincywere magnificent and of the highest class. The only thing that surprised me was, why did Clarke call off the match with some 10 overs still to be played ? He should have gone for the jugular, brought in Siddle and Pattinson instead of having Quiney bowl the last few overs. He should have gone for the kill, suffocated the South Africans and made life just that much more miserable for them, not only to punch a few more holes in their batting but also create a psychological stranglehold over them before the second Test. And this coming from a person i.e. me who never supports Australia !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by BashComment on (November 13, 2012, 17:53 GMT)

I always believed a loss is not a bad thing while trying to win. Test cricket badly need it. I like Clarke as he always try to win. Remember, Dhoni did not try to win against Windies when the demand was 90 runs in 50 overs in a Twenty20 time.

Posted by Arrow011 on (November 13, 2012, 16:41 GMT)

I would rate M. Clarke as the world's best captain & Dhoni as the worst Test captain (Not ODI or 20-20). Dravid & Laxman's negative mindset drew a test in Windies when they could have won very easily. These 2 batsmen also should share the blame equally.

Posted by AncientAstronaut on (November 13, 2012, 16:19 GMT)

When Clarke was made captain, I thought he'd go the Ponting way and fail, but he's proven me wrong. Now that I know the influence Warne has had on him, it's no surprise that he's turning out to be a brilliant captain. Congratulations to him!

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 15:54 GMT)

The greatest thing about Michael Clarke is that he believes in his team. He believes he can win even when he wasn't presented with a silver platter of McGrath, Lee, Gillespie, Warne, Gilly, Hayden, Langer, Martin like his predecessor was. Clarke is an exceptional leader and he inspires boys to become men (Cummins in SA test), and men to become champions. Even at 40/3, he believed he could pull it off. And therein lies his greatness.

Posted by RandyT60 on (November 13, 2012, 15:53 GMT)

Ummm, Katwash, I'm a bit puzzled... Since when is 329 "Just short" of 380?

Posted by thebarmyarmy on (November 13, 2012, 15:19 GMT)

Congrats Australia and Clarke. Fantastic draw!!

Posted by a1s2 on (November 13, 2012, 15:19 GMT)

@hycIass i bet now your going to say something about him proving against spinners now right? he already did.debut against india.scored a century the last time against sri lanka and also that half century(it was equal to a century) too in the first test against sri lanka where the pitch was a paradise for spinner

Posted by PACERONE on (November 13, 2012, 14:40 GMT)

Clarke is the best captain in cricket today.He does not play for stalemate games.I told him when I met him in Barbados that he had done the game good by declaring when behind on runs.He shows confidence in his team mates.He is also a premier batsman and one of my favorites.Smith,Strauss,Domi and others wait until they are sure they cannot lose to make moves.Look at the way Kallis would bat...just take his time and not take any risks.Clarke will try to score faster if the game dictates it.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 14:20 GMT)

Michael Clarke could have batted all day and gone for the recordl. For the good of the game, he gave his side a chance to win. A great captain, working for the team.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 14:18 GMT)

Clarke's first Test Century, on debut, was in India. That proved he could score on tough tracks. He only needed consistency. And now he's got it. For the moment. Cricket is a fickle mistress.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 14:12 GMT)

The appointment of Clarke as captain was heavily criticised in this country (Australia), but not by me. My only criticism is that he had, for a while, a habit of getting out either side of lunch and tea (usually before).But I thought captaincy would focus his mind. And it has. What a captain. The Allan Border of this generation. Michael Clarke will lead us to the top again. Wonderful effort by the boys, magnificent innings by Clarke. Test Cricket - the best form of the game by a long, long way. Replay's on no balls? Not unless on every ball. Test Matches have been lost by one run after all.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 14:00 GMT)

Dhoni is the most negative captain of world who just want to play test and complete his responsibility as formality. He never shows any eagerness of winning tests as seen in last tests of both series against W.I. in W.I. and India last year which could have been won easily bt ended in draw apart from england and australia series. Just compare positive attitude of Clark's who even declared 1st inngs. against W.I. even to a score less than W.I. score to win from an impossible position and had nearly achieved it. That's the spirit every fan wants to see from their captain.

Posted by Dubious on (November 13, 2012, 12:55 GMT)

HycIass, as everybody has mentioned his terrific innings on terrible decks, I'd just like to note that Clarke, Hussey and even Wade scored quite freely and marvelously on the exact pitch and on the same day that South Africa lost wickets, scored slowly and none of them even passed 50.

Posted by warneythebest on (November 13, 2012, 12:22 GMT)

@HycIass : u clearly hv short term memory loss... over the years clarkey has played some good innings on difficult tracks.... like every1 else has mentioned here his most recent being the 1st test against SA's fab attack on pitch that yielded scores of 97 and 47.... nd then the 1st test in galle against SL in 2011....that pitch was evn reported..... need i say more!!!

Posted by tintaman on (November 13, 2012, 12:21 GMT)

If Watson is back and fit Australia should start favourites for the next test, without Dunimy SA's batting advantage is threatened and the bowling attacks seem about even to me. Eager to see how Lyon and Tahir go on a pitch that should take turn days 4 and 5.

Posted by katwash on (November 13, 2012, 12:20 GMT)

Michael Clarke had made his mark as a great captain. His declaration last season when on 329, just short of the Aus record showed the cricket world of his team only commitment. He is uncompromising, tough but fair in his role, and for me he has that " Not waiting for something to happen, make it happen" mentality about him. Perhaps his opposite in the current series could learn a bit from him, instead of letting the game drift as he did in this Test Match.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 12:08 GMT)

HycIass, did you see Clarke's knock at Cape Town last year? On the same track where 22 South African and Australian wickets fell for less than 150 runs, Clarke made 151 in the first innings - one of the finest knocks of the modern era.

With hundreds at Bangalore, Antigua, Delhi, Lord's, Birmingham, Wellington, Colombo and Cape Town (as well as tons at every Australian ground except Melbourne), I think Clarke has shown the capacity to succeed on different tracks around the world.

Posted by Beertjie on (November 13, 2012, 12:07 GMT)

Alongside the positivity we still need more penetration in our attack which Starc and Watto will give with Lyon bowling into Starc's footmarks. Here's hoping for some of that confidence getting translated into consistency of performance. Go you good thing!

Posted by Mary_786 on (November 13, 2012, 12:07 GMT)

@Hyclass your lack knowledge is now starting to come through, your unfair critisms of Cowan, Clarke and Khawaja are not based on facts but on your personal negativity against these players. Most people are starting to see this now. Clarke is among the best batsman in the world and your failure to see this shows your lack of knowledge on the game. I am done trying to convince you.

Posted by pks007 on (November 13, 2012, 12:06 GMT)

@Hyclass: He scored a magnificent hundred against saffas on a greentop in cape town . He also scored a Hundred on a dustbowl in lanka . He can and he will score in all conditions

Posted by GoCho on (November 13, 2012, 12:02 GMT)

@ HycIass, I guess you started watching cricket in the last 6 months, for if you had watched, or atleast seen the scorecard of the Newlands test last year, you would know what a pheneomenal century he scored!

Posted by ozycriketfan on (November 13, 2012, 11:59 GMT)

what about the 151 he scored at cape town in 2011 Nov.....if your argument is that Clarke could score big centuries only on flat pitches, why can't others score so many doubles and tripples in one calendar year. It seemed only Aus got flat decks.... I don't mean he is the best cricketer, but since he took over captaincy he has done pretty well, scored huge number of runs.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 11:55 GMT)

@hyclass: when was the last time u watched cricket! did u forget the 47 all out match where clarke scored 151????

Posted by dwblurb on (November 13, 2012, 11:47 GMT)

"I think Clarke needs to show he can score on tough decks, so far all his big innings have come on flat decks"

If you mean by big innings double centuries and the like, they tend by their very nature to come on relatively flat decks. If you mean hundreds and important innings, you only need look back to Cape Town a year ago - a tremendous hundred on a pitch where both sides struggled to make runs.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 11:43 GMT)

HycIass are you kidding? Did you not see his innings in at Newlands last year on a seaming, swinging surface vs South Africa?

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 11:41 GMT)

@ HycIass you obviously don't watch enough cricket mate -

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 11:39 GMT)

There was that 151 in south africa

Posted by straight_drive4 on (November 13, 2012, 11:38 GMT)

@hyclass - if your intention was to be positive then you have failed. Michael Clarke has reinvigorated himself and the Australian team since he has taken over. This is the first negative comment I have heard about him since then. You are on your own here mate...

Posted by jtung on (November 13, 2012, 11:35 GMT)

have you forgotten about his 150-odd against this very SA attack on that early november wicket in SA? the game where Aus was bowled out for 47 in the 2nd innings..

Posted by MrKricket on (November 13, 2012, 11:34 GMT)

I think Clarke's innings in Cape Town a year ago (151 out of 284 total) that was overshadowed by the 47 debacle in the second innings should be example enough of him scoring in tough conditions. People said the same of Bradman that he only scored on easy decks - he must have had a LOT of easy decks then.

Posted by cat5a on (November 13, 2012, 11:34 GMT)

Well done aussies. As to the the no ball stuff, it's not rocket science, they measure there run up and mark their start possi. so what is the problem.

Posted by dinosaurus on (November 13, 2012, 11:33 GMT)

What about his century in SA last year, in the match when the side was dismissed for 47 in the second dig? SA were also dismissed in their first dig for less than 100. No featherbed wicket, that!

Posted by sawifan on (November 13, 2012, 11:32 GMT)

... and to add to that. NO-ONE scores big tons on terrible pitches. Good batsmen cash in on flat pitch and score tons (no necessarily big ones), on tricky tracks. And Clarke has done both. I'm still waiting to see any ENG score a ton on a tricky track, let alone a big one!

Posted by RandyOZ on (November 13, 2012, 11:30 GMT)

Hyclass: South Africa. That is all. One of the best Innings I have seen.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 11:30 GMT)

@HycIass,I think you've forgotten the 151 in South Africa last year on a pitch where SA were bowled out for 96 and Australia for 47.

Posted by sawifan on (November 13, 2012, 11:28 GMT)

Yeah @Hyclass, it was a really easy deck in SAF last year where he scored 151... and in SRL, and on debut in IND... and... need more?

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 11:25 GMT)

Hyclass - 150 odd against SA in capetown 2011 in the first innings where he declared it was just a waste of time after the second innings collapse of 47 - that wasnt a flat deck

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 11:24 GMT)

@HycIass - you mean like at Newlands last year where he knocked up 151 when no-one else managed a 50 in the first 3 innings? In fact his score in that innings was more than the next 2 innings (22 batsmen) total put together? That sort of moving bouncy tough deck? Although it was not as bad as the 96 and 47 innings totals suggested - it certainly wasn't flat.

Posted by srriaj317 on (November 13, 2012, 11:21 GMT)

@HycIass: I believe you didn't have a Cricinfo account when Clarkey scored a rasping 151 on the green mamba at Cape Town? I also presume you weren't around when he scored tons on green decks at Hobart and Brisbane previously. To be fair, every triple hundred or daddy score is inevitably scored on a slowish track and this includes Lara's 400 at Antigua. That fact doesn't diminish Lara's genius or stature a single bit.

Posted by hycIass on (November 13, 2012, 10:59 GMT)

Without sounding negative I think Clarke needs to show he can score on tough decks, so far all his big innings have come on flat decks(i.e Sydney, Brisbane), he needs to score a big one on a moving boucy deck, what do you guys think?

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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