'Haddin deserves the rewards' - Clarke
Michael Clarke is the youngest member of Australia's batting line-up but maturity is not an issue for the man most likely to be the team's next captain. Clarke's 110 in Adelaide was his fourth Test century this year and his calm and measured manner was a contrast to the aggressive approach taken by Brad Haddin in his superb 169.
Being dropped from the Test team in 2005-06 was a wake-up call that still resonates with Clarke, who has scored a century in every series since regaining his position full-time in the 2006-07 Ashes. Clarke said his patience had increased considerably in the past couple of years.
"Today's a great example," Clarke said. "Hadds walked out to bat and every ball he hit, struck the middle of the bat. My job was easy: it was to get a single and get up the other end and let him go for his life. Three years ago I would have been trying to compete with him. I would have thought 'he hit a four, I've got to hit a four'. That just comes with age."
Clarke was on 48 when Haddin came to the crease but the wicketkeeper was so destructive that by the time the pair had put on a 100-run partnership, Haddin's contribution was 70. Haddin finished the day with the highest Test score by an Australian in two years and Clarke said it was terrific to see one of the newer permanent members of the team thrive.
"I've seen Hadds bat like that a lot for New South Wales in four-day cricket and one-day cricket and it was great to see him do that today," Clarke said. "And it takes courage, having a few failures, to walk out after losing two wickets early and back yourself from the first ball and he deserves the rewards."
It was the first time Haddin had passed 50 in his nine-Test career. He said by the end of the recent tour of India he was starting to doubt and put too much pressure on himself but he felt it was important to keep playing his natural game. Haddin said the overwhelming feeling when he clipped Tim Southee through midwicket for four to bring up the milestone was a relief.
"It's a pretty emotional time," Haddin said. "You've played first-class cricket now for ten years and I know it's a bit of a cliché but you dream of those days of scoring a hundred for Australia. I think we've all done it in some form in the backyard or whether it be on the beach, so it was a pretty emotional time."
It was also a very useful period for Australia, who posted a first-innings total of 535 and by the close of the third day had a lead of 230. New Zealand ended the day with ten wickets in hand and Clarke said while Australia were hopeful of winning the Test and completing a 2-0 series victory on the fourth day, the job would not be simple.
"It's going to be tough to bowl New Zealand out," Clarke said. "I think the wicket's going to be very flat. There's not too much spin, so the next two days are going to be hard for us in the field and our bowlers are going to have to work really hard."
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo