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November 9, 2011
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 ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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