England v Australia, 1st Test, Lord's, 2nd day July 22, 2005

The prancing pup

As on his debut, what stood out about Michael Clarke's innings was his footwork

When Michael Clarke made that astonishing debut at Bangalore against India last year, the aspect that most stood out about his batting was his free spirit and twinkle-toed footwork. He struggled to express himself as freely in his last few Test innings, but on a bright and sunny day at Lord's, and with the match hanging in the balance, Clarke's abundant talent shone through once again.

As in his debut knock, the feature of Clarke's innings was the manner in which he got into position to play each delivery. As the graphic below indicates, he was equally comfortable playing either forward or back, and the man who had once driven Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh to despair positively relished the opportunity of playing Ashley Giles: his 33 balls disappeared for 32, including 22 off the 12 occasions when Clarke sashayed down the pitch.

Damien Martyn was the senior partner in terms of experience, but he clearly played second fiddle in the stand of 155. Martyn faced 103 balls to Clarke's 105, but contributed just 53 to the partnership while Clarke notched up 91. As Clarke's wagon-wheel shows, he heavily favoured the covers and the midwicket, getting 60% of his runs in those regions, while he scored nothing backward of point and almost nothing through third man. He missed out on his third Test century, and instead managed his second score of 91, but his knock put Australia in front despite England's late strikes.