South Africa v Australia, 1st Test, Cape Town, 1st day November 9, 2011

Clarke confident Australia still in the game

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Michael Clarke believes Australia will have done well if they can scrape to 250 on the second day in Cape Town. When bad light and rain forced an early end to a day that had also started late, the Australians were 214 for 8, with Clarke still at the crease on 107 and Peter Siddle yet to score.

Australia had been sent in by Graeme Smith, who expected moisture in the pitch to give his fast men some assistance and despite Clarke's hundred, the South Africans finished the opening day on top. However, Clarke said he would have batted had he won the toss, so keen was he to stay positive.

"I would have batted," Clarke said. "I think it is good attitude wise. I am a batsman and it would have shown good intent from the team. We knew it would be hard for the first couple of hours to lunch but if the sun came out it would have got easier but unfortunately it didn't come out for as long as we liked. I thought 300 would have been a good day.

"After being sent in I would have liked 300, but the wicket changed. When the sun was out the wicket was better to bat on, when it was overcast there was a little bit of swing and seam all day. It was pretty similar to English conditions today. If we can scratch 250 plus we have done a pretty good job."

Clarke and Shaun Marsh were the only two of Australia's batsmen who seemed comfortable in the difficult conditions after the top order stumbled to 38 for 3. Marsh was calm and assured until he missed a Dale Steyn inswinger and was lbw for 44 and Clarke played a chanceless innings after some early heat from Steyn, who attacked him with bouncers.

But despite Australia's slightly under-par score, batting is unlikely to get significantly easier as the Test wears on. Clarke said he was confident that Australia were still in the match if his bowlers could extract similar sting from the pitch as the South Africans did.

"You can see cracks already on day one," he said. "I think if the sun comes out you will see more balls shoot along the ground as the game goes on, but if it stays over cast I think it is going to swing and seam for five days.

"It is going to be tough to start your batting on while it is overcast. We have got to hit the right areas with the ball and hang on to our catches and I am not too disappointed with how we've gone."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • veerakannadiga on November 10, 2011, 8:59 GMT

    guyzz like it or not, Australia is going to win. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander also. If Steyn & Co. can be so effective, so can Siddle & co.Regarding Pras_Punter's comments, Mate just cool it....every home team prepares pitches to their strengths or else the term home advantage will have no meaning.All said and done, Australia is making rapid strides to the top position, I like the look of this Aus team. Only change required is the opening department. Pair Katich with Watson and you have a winning combination.

  • boris6491 on November 10, 2011, 8:25 GMT

    Why are people making such a big deal about who is the top two teams? We're getting good quality cricket between two equally matched teams, stop cribbing and enjoy it. To me it all comes down the SA's first innings, if Aus can bowl well and restrict SA to about 220-230 (which is what I presume is the maximum Australia can get from where), they're in the game. If SA get 300+ in the first innings, I can't see the Aussies coming back.

  • mathewjohn2176 on November 10, 2011, 8:09 GMT

    @pras_punter,seriously he was talking about the icc test ranking,two points separate aus and pak.how do you know even know he is from India? Subcontinent pitches are dry and made to be spinning condition,whereas aus pitches are seam and bouncy condition.no one calls Perth as minefield .so you need to accept that every country has their own home condition.i support Australia and srilanka,but in the match except Clark no one played good yesterday.

  • cricket_ftw on November 10, 2011, 7:10 GMT

    Watch out for ryan harris. I feel its his kind of a pitch.

  • atthipatti on November 10, 2011, 5:44 GMT

    No wrong in SA winning this series 2-0 or even 1-0, but in the hind sight they just beat with the stick - a dead snake!!!

  • PrasPunter on November 10, 2011, 5:18 GMT

    @G.Sri. for sure you are from india. fine. We are in par with Pak ? ok. Even for God's sake, we wont prepare a minefield of a track to beat a second string team from WI or NZ like what your so-called greatest team on the earth did.

  • satish619chandar on November 10, 2011, 5:10 GMT

    if the conditions remain the same on Day 2, we can have a closely contested match!! This score might be competitive..

  • RandyOZ on November 10, 2011, 5:00 GMT

    We are well placed here. Steyn was on fire but I think jono is up to the task.

  • LiTi66 on November 10, 2011, 4:18 GMT

    @Chris K, One can't blame it on the "luck" of the toss, if the outcome is the same regardless of who wins the toss (i.e. Australia would have batted even if they won the toss). There is no luck involved this time.

  • Marcio on November 10, 2011, 4:09 GMT

    Unfortunately, @Chris, day one showed that this is a two faced pitch: a minefield when overcast, much friendlier when sunny. The weather forecast for day 2 is sunny, so AUS just have to accept that they got the very short end of the straw here. Ironically, the longer Clarke and the tail enders bat, the drier the pitch will get, making it easier for the SA openers. Still, the pitch had cracks before the start of play, so it's not going to flatten out too much. As @Meety mentioned, SA will need a lead of 100, as they will have to bat last. Overall I'm not complaining about the score. Australia, and especially Clarke did well to get over 150 in the conditions. SA actually bowled poorly in patches, and most AUS batsmen got out to almost unplayable deliveries that moved and/or bounced extravagantly. SA may yet regret bleeding 60-80 runs more than they should have.

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