South Africa v Australia, 1st Test, Cape Town, 2nd day November 10, 2011

Clarke slams 'disgraceful' batting

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Michael Clarke has labelled the shot selection from Australia's batsmen as "disgraceful" on a day when they narrowly avoided being dismissed for the lowest Test total of all time. His predecessor Ricky Ponting faced some tough days at the office but Clarke was left hoping he never endures a worse one than this, his 16th as full-time Test captain, when Australia were dismissed for 47.

On one of the most remarkable days in modern Test history, Australia skittled South Africa for 96 and then suffered a horrendous collapse, falling to 21 for 9 on a pitch that was not as bad as the figures suggest. The lowest total in Test history was New Zealand's 26 against England in Auckland in 1955, and only some late fight from Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon pushed Australia past that humiliation.

Clarke cut a slightly despondent figure as he faced the media at the end of the day, but there was a glimmer of hope, with South Africa needing the second-highest successful chase at Newlands to secure victory. All the same, he was at a loss to explain Australia's capitulation, especially after his own first-innings century.

"All I can say is the top seven of us, as a batting unit, have to take responsibility for what just occurred," Clarke said after play. "It's certainly not good enough and me as the leader, especially after coming off a good first-innings total, certainly need to take the blame.

"There was enough in the wicket when it was overcast, but our shot selection was disgraceful, we nicked everything in sight, any half lbw was given out, I can make a million excuses - the facts are we should not have been all out for 47. The top seven, we did not execute our skills well.

"A lot of times in my career, as I just said to the boys in the change-rooms, the bowlers seemed to get criticised for us losing games of cricket, but I can guarantee you we have done nothing but put ourselves under pressure because of our batting performance in this second innings."

On the first day, Dale Steyn attacked Clarke with bouncers in an effort to "cut off the head" of Australia's batting. On the second day, the batsmen behaved like headless chickens, but they had done the lopping themselves.

Brad Haddin and Michael Hussey were especially guilty of throwing their wickets away with reckless flashes outside off stump, while Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson were lbw to straight balls they should not have missed. Of the top-order men, Clarke and Phillip Hughes fell to the best deliveries, while the injured Shaun Marsh, who batted at No.10, was unlucky to be lbw to one that stayed low.

"The batters are disappointed," Clarke said. "We've just had a ten-minute chat as a team in regards to every single one of us putting our hands up and trying to explain the errors we made, to face the music, to accept the reality that we are responsible. There's nobody else to blame. Our top seven batters are as good as any top seven batters in the world, in my opinion. So today is ... unbelievable."

The way Clarke trailed off in that response betrayed how shattered he was, while for the rest of the post-match press conference he appeared composed. It was not a day he will forget, nor one he hopes to repeat.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on November 13, 2011, 15:52 GMT

    yes, it was a disgraceful batting, but its not end, i m sure oz bounceback shortly, ricky must be fire in bat , this is the only way to reply, attack there best bowler rather thn just defence, attack is the best way as clark said after slam151, thts the only way , australia hav all the quality to beat any team in any form, just work hard and play ur natural stroke, thy hav 4 fast bowler and australian played best while they are under pressure, play dav warner as an opener along with huges, watto must play down the order, thts the only change if clark want to do, otherwise they r well n track to beat proteas, all the best ricky, m sure ricky must play a good innings in 2nd test

  • 5wombats on November 13, 2011, 9:29 GMT

    @mathewjohn2176 - another comment with no credibility. Beat Pak 3-1 and beat india 4-0 - not sure how this still makes Pak and india "miles ahead" of England. But if you want to believe that - you carry on. Whatever makes you happy. The rest of the cricket world knows the truth - the whitewash, the not winning a single match against England in any format, etc - but if you don't want to see it, that's fine.

  • mathewjohn2176 on November 13, 2011, 3:07 GMT

    @5wombat,Pakistan atleast won games in India,whereas England are a laughing stock for two decades.Pakistan is miles ahead of England.That's why some indian fans are miffed how Pakistan better than England.sad but have to agree on this.lol

  • maddy20 on November 12, 2011, 15:21 GMT

    @5Wombats They were better in that one tour . We all agree about that. As for 2007 thing you were referring to, I did not have an account then. The fact remains that England has not won a single test or ODI game in India in the last 5 years. So I think you should pipe down and stop boasting about your SA imports, for when the real SA gets there and when your team gets here, there will not be anything to boast about. We will give you a repeat of the 2008 performance and your team will regret setting foot on our soil where we owned every team including Aus(who managed to win only one series that too about 10 years ago) where as you could not hold your own in 2007 against a 70% strong Ind team.

  • itsthewayuplay on November 12, 2011, 13:45 GMT

    @Anton Burrows couldn't agree more re Watson. I think he's a very good clean striker of the ball whose game is more suited to the middle / lower order in tests where he doesn't and shouldn't have to worry too much about sideways movement. In conditions like this test I'm in favour of old school openers who see their roles as to take the shine off the ball and let the strokemakes come in score the runs. Who would you like to see open the innings? I must confess I'm not up to date with Aus domestic cricket at the moment.

  • 5wombats on November 12, 2011, 10:38 GMT

    @screamingeagle - it's clear that indians are miffed because Pakistan beat England in one match. Yes - Pakistan are better than india! india won no matches in any format.

  • screamingeagle on November 12, 2011, 5:55 GMT

    @wombats, absolutely true about england team being great. We did see them playing spin just as well in the recently concluded series in india. they were simply magnificent in playing the part of spoilt brats.

  • RandyOZ on November 12, 2011, 5:23 GMT

    I have been a long time Ponting advocate, but his spot in the side is no longer tenable. At his best he would come in and sure up the batting after an early wicket. A perfect #3. However he can no longer cover for an early wicket (which is especially important because of our two cowboy openers). Khawaja needs to come in ASAP and sure up the batting. I would also love to see watto drop down the order.

  • farkin on November 12, 2011, 0:08 GMT

    sack the lot of them and start over

  • dummy4fb on November 11, 2011, 20:21 GMT

    What's all the fuss about? 47 all out is a GREAT total, if you're in 7th grade playing barefoot with a cork ball and no pads on a gravel pitch and makeshift bat. Congratulations to Ponting and Clarke.

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