SA v Australia, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 1st day March 1, 2014

Clarke (just about) survives Mornzilla

A blow-by-blow account of Morne Morkel's fearsome attack on Michael Clarke
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Short ball.

Ribs. 40.6.

Morne Morkel bowled two of his first three balls to Clarke full. He bowled all three over the wicket. That was a massive waste of time and effort. That over didn't start when Steyn went off after one ball, and it didn't start with Morkel's over the wicket ball in the corridor, it started when Morkel came around the wicket and slammed the ball into Clarke's ribs. Clarke didn't play it, he just clutched it to himself like an injured bird. There was now little chance of Morkel coming back over the wicket. Or Clarke getting tested with the full swinging ball.

Short ball. Short ball. Elgar over.

Arm. 42.3

Morkel now had his aim right. It was somewhere between the arm pit and left nipple. Clarke was moving back and across and into the missile's trajectory. He was a slow-moving target, and Morkel hit him right on the arm. It looked like, to paraphrase Clarke himself, "a broken f**ken arm". Which is something that one of the South Africans might have mentioned to him. The super slow motion looked like a shock ad to teach you the lessons of not wearing arm guards. At the end of the over, when Clarke was touched by the physio, it looked like he'd rather not be.

Warner tried to protect his captain by keeping strike a couple of times. One ball that Warner called two on Clarke just jogged the one to get back on strike. Clarke had moved back to No. 4. Clarke hadn't made any runs. Clarke would not hide at the non-strikers end.

Short ball. Short ball. Elgar over. Short ball. Short ball.

Shoulder and head. 44.3.

Clarke had had enough of standing upright and being hit, so he dropped to get under another ball on an armpit-nipple length. This time the ball didn't quite get up, but Clarke couldn't see as he had turned his head away, and the ball crashed into his shoulder. From there it ricocheted up into his jaw. Clarke tossed his bat, stumbled off the pitch and was surrounded by worried South Africans. None more so than Morne Morkel. Seemingly everyone within Cricket Australia with a first aid certificate came out to check on the captain. The cameras found Shane Warner looking worried on the balcony, an odd twist on the grieving wife shot. They decideed that Clarke is okay. After a few minutes, he faced up again.

Hand. 44.4.

The ball was straight back at him, Clarke flinched early, he took his eye off it, this time it hit his hand and flew straight up in the air. Clarke had no idea where the ball is. JP Duminy rushed in like a mad man from a deepish short leg, the ball beat him to the ground, but went very close to the stumps. Clarke could have been caught, Clarke could have been bowled, and Clarke could have had a broken hand. Clarke is under attack.

Gut. 44.5.

Clarke was now clearly over just being hit and decided to try the attacking option. The pull shot to get away from the short ball worked for him in Adelaide when England tried the same thing. This time he just sort of got hit around the gut as the ball ended up behind him.

When Warner faced a short ball from Morkel it ended up smashing it's way to the fine leg boundary between two fielders. The difference was as great between Warner and Clarke as it was between Mornzilla and Elgar Smurf. Everyone at the ground wanted to fast forward the Elgar overs or any balls when Warner was facing. No one even worried much about Steyn's injury.

Short ball. Elgar over. Short ball. Short ball. Short ball. Short ball. Elgar over. Short ball. Morne taken off.

Thumb. 86.3.

With the new ball Morkel achieved some sideways movement. And for a while, he pretended that Clarke was just another batsman. Clarke even pushed one through mid-on in what looked like very civilised cricket. More shockingly, Clarke smacked a pull through midwicket. But Clarke wasn't just another batsman, and Morne went back to the beautiful barbaric nature of armpits around the wicket. Leg slip came back in smelling blood. And Morkel produced it with another ball that almost ripped the top of Clarke's thumb off. Much time was taken to reattach the thumb nail. Blood was wiped away. And then Clarke took any chance he could to get off strike for the next ball, surviving a possible run-out and getting a well earned five.

Finally Clarke could rest at the non-strikers end. He had nothing left to prove, and nothing left to injure. He had survived.

Jarrod Kimber was 50% of the Two Chucks, and is the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ScottStevo on March 2, 2014, 11:06 GMT

    @disco_bob, don't go too far, mate. It's turned out okay as Clarke survived, but I assure you, if one of those deliveries had taken his wicket, we'd have been shamed by that. A lot of those deliveries Clarke took weren't even into the ribs and he was avoiding playing them. To be honest, if he didn't come out the other side of that barrage, Clarke would've looked very poor. As for Watson, he generally doesn't shy away from confrontation, or have trouble with short stuff. As @ModernUmpiresPlz states, he generally has more troubles with the straight one that nips back in...I fear today he will have been told to up the run rates and will play a few T20 style slogs rather than construct a proper innings. If he gets going though, could be good viewing as we all know how strong he can hit.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on March 2, 2014, 7:26 GMT

    @disco_bob Watto never shied away from short pitched bowling though. If anything the problem is that he is in line and gets hit. On the pads. In front of his stumps.

  • disco_bob on March 2, 2014, 7:07 GMT

    I'd like to see Watto try and get away with playing carelessly now. Clarke has shamed everyone to standing up, or standing down.

  • Rufus_Fuddleduck on March 2, 2014, 6:42 GMT

    A praiseworthy piece of prose to describe a great mini battle

  • heathrf1974 on March 2, 2014, 4:50 GMT

    Great bowling by Morkel. Unfortunately he struggles to bowl a good length ball to actually get more wickets.

  • dummy4fb on March 2, 2014, 4:21 GMT

    Gutsy effort Clarky. You are going to black and blue, but if we win, it will largely because of the effort you put in. Well done!

  • Chris_Howard on March 2, 2014, 3:54 GMT

    And this is why Test cricket is one of the great sports. The Yanks can keep their baseball, it's got nothing like this.

  • Rajsrimaan on March 2, 2014, 0:04 GMT

    Aussies learning to take it as well as dish it out!

  • dummy4fb on March 1, 2014, 22:55 GMT

    yes, and his acceleration from 22 off 75 to 90 off 180 was really important. classic counter-attacking. after surviving. if he can hold the bat he could make 200, the scene is set for brilliant cameos by Watson, Haddin and Johnson, if they get a bat.

    As always in these situations I favour a fast 450 more than grinding 600 to produce a result, especially when we haven't picked a leggie. But at least we have a more attacking bowling line up. this is the big chance!

  • disco_bob on March 1, 2014, 22:12 GMT

    Jarrod, you forgot the epilogue, where Clarke goes on to score 92* and takes Aust to 3/331.

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