South Africa v Australia, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 2nd day March 2, 2014

'Overdue' Clarke toasts gutsy 161*


'Satisfying to finally get some runs' - Clarke

An "overdue" Michael Clarke spent much of the night being treated by Australia's physio Alex Kountouris and team doctor Peter Brukner due to the fearful blows from Morne Morkel, something that will make his 27th Test century remembered as one of his very finest.

Though reluctant to discuss detail of the injuries sustained by Morkel's battering, particularly the question of whether he suffered any concussion after twice being struck about the head, Clarke admitted he would not have been able to continue his innings without the fastidious care of Kountouris and Brukner, who each had ventured onto the field at various points on day one.

"Plenty of treatment, plenty of ice and I'm fortunate to have Alex the physio and the Doc [Peter Brukner] help me out," Clarke said. "It was a long night, a longer morning to be honest, but I'm in great hands. Without their help, no way would I have got on the park today.

"It's obviously very satisfying to contribute in this series. I was overdue, any time you make a hundred for Australia it's good. I've never had a bad one. There were some tough stages there yesterday, I thought Morne Morkel bowled a couple of pretty quick spells when he went around the wicket and tried to attack the emblem on my helmet, the bounce was a little inconsistent so it wasn't easy to consistently duck or hook and pull.

"I have been hit plenty of times through my career, maybe not so many times in one spell, but that's the way it goes. So that was a bit difficult at the time so it was nice to get through, most importantly we have had one and a half days of Test cricket and we have 494 runs on the board, so I am extremely pleased with the position we are in."

Before he could reach his century, Clarke had to weather a tight spell from the South African seamer Kyle Abbott, who kept him scoreless for three overs in a row amid a 24-ball wait on 99. Clarke eventually made it to the other end where he laced Vernon Philander through cover to reach the milestone, his 13th hundred as captain of Australia.

"It didn't really bother me to be honest," Clarke said. "Our goal today was to try and bat exactly like we did yesterday up until lunch and then assess where the game was at. So it wasn't about my runs personally, it was making sure I was seeing that new ball off and doing the job for the team. Fortunately I was able to get that period."

Clarke is now left to ponder the timing of a declaration, given that more than three hours of play were lost to rain on the second afternoon. He left open the possibility of batting on early on day three, the better to ensure his side does not have to bat again in their pursuit of a series-sealing victory.

"I want to see what the weather's like more than anything else in the morning," he said. "The advantage now is we start at 10am every day, so we'll still get some overs back. The forecast is pretty good for the next three days. I'll have a good chat to Boof tonight. Obviously our goal is to win this Test match, so if that means batting for some time and getting as many runs as we can if we think it's the best way to win we'll do that. If we think declaring overnight is the best way then it doesn't bother me.

"We hope that the wicket's going to deteriorate and there's more up and down [bounce]. Hopefully some reverse swing and a little bit of spin as the game goes on. You've got to sum up runs in your first innings versus how tough they're going to be in second innings, how much time's left in the game, what the weather's like. A few things to consider, but the most important thing is how you're going to win."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on March 3, 2014, 12:48 GMT

    @Hello13 "Distiinctly average batsman" Yep an average above 50 is very average as far as average averages go. As far as Steyn goes he has so far had one good day when the ball was reversing, apart from that he has looked like an average fast medium bowler so what makes you think he would have been any more effective than any of the other fast medium bowlers?

  • Graham on March 3, 2014, 12:37 GMT

    Hello13; Last 7 games against Steyn 2 double hundreds and a 150. Those figures suggests your opinion is way off the mark. He had a couple failures against South Africa so a big 150 was way overdue with his recent strike rate against this attack.

  • Dummy4 on March 3, 2014, 12:16 GMT

    I am all for an Australian win. But what really matters is that the 'pure' form of the game is advanced over the hit and giggle games. Cricket is like chess in that, for the captain and 'keeper especially, it is a game of mental stress and endurance. The stronger will and superior tactics win, and in this area, Clarke and Haddin are streets ahead of their counterparts. The South Africaans, on the whole, don't rate Clarke. Well, as he proved when he declare when his personal score was just below Bradmans best in tests, he is a team player. And he has his players playing as a team. No other team in the world has the onfield support of their teammates that the Australians do. Leadership reflects attitude, and the Aussies seem to have a great attitude. Just sit back and enjoy the Clarke show. It is worth watching.

  • Rajdeep on March 3, 2014, 9:30 GMT

    Distinctly average player. If Steyn was around, he would have been out much earlier.

  • rob on March 3, 2014, 8:14 GMT

    @ Jagger: Yeah, that's poor from Sutherland. Totally friggin out of order actually. .. The BBL is too long for a start. I couldn't believe there was no Shield cricket between the Ashes and this tour. People said we where selecting players on 50 over and T20 form (Mitch Johnson for one) and it's completely true. Shield form hardly seems to be a factor but to be fair to the selectors there hardly seems to be any Shield cricket on these days. .. Revenue my friend. ODI's and T20's = full grounds and lots of lovely money. Shield cricket + sparse crowds and a drag on the bank account. .. Why the hell don't they televise it? People would watch, I know I would. TV = Advertising = Money.

  • Richard on March 3, 2014, 7:16 GMT

    @ dunger.bob - well put. As an aside, I am not happy with James Sutherland atm. He keeps telling the media Test cricket is in trouble. Yet there is no evidence of that in the recent past. Well, Micheal Slater has tried his level best to kill it but that's for another day.

    If you strangle the Sheffield Shield by cutting their financial allocation Australia will never forgive you, James. Don't make it your legacy. Please. We want this time we lived in to be remembered for centuries to come.

  • rob on March 3, 2014, 6:25 GMT

    @ dinosaurus : Completely agree about the team ethic we generally have. I think we tend to judge our players by what they've done for the team rather than the personal milestones they rack up. Adam Gilchrist is a perfect example of that I reckon. He ended up with an ave. of about 48 I think but he could have finished with 50+ ave. if he wasn't so indifferent towards his own record. He was the most selfless player I've ever seen. It was as though he didn't care at all about his own record, the team was everything to him. I saw him throw his wicket away countless times in the pursuit of quick runs when he was set. He could have have pulled it back a bit and turned those 70's and 80's into big hundreds but that wasn't what the team needed, so he didn't. .. anyway, despite all that, if you don't think Clarke can bat with the best of them you're not a fair dinkum cricket fan imo. .. He's good all right. Anyone with two good eyes and an open mind should be able to see that.

  • John on March 3, 2014, 5:55 GMT

    @dunger.bob I have noticed that, to listen to the comments here, Australia don't have any players. I think it is a reflection of our national cricket culture that makes our team look like that. Australians generally do cricket as a team game. Boof made a comment after the Centurion test how pleased he was by the sight of Rogers diving in the outfield to save runs when SA were nine wickets down in the second dig and trailing by close to 300. It's not sentimental malarkey that is necessary (aka "homework not required") but rather a willingness to work for the general good.

  • dinesh on March 3, 2014, 5:30 GMT

    cullinan says both teams will be happy with draw....sorry mate...aussies are goi to win these...though SA got a bit of luck..had they batted yesterday last session for 2hrs...aussies had great chance to get them 2,3 down but anyways...good to hear clarke is goin only for victory..the way captain hes i know hes surely goin to...aus shld play half hour or declare right at this stage...common aus give it all we need a victory here..i sense aussies are goin to do it...go aussies

  • Nathan on March 3, 2014, 2:58 GMT

    Bernard you are so right. I so want to stop being interested in tough, hard cricket between the World's 2 best sides at the moment to watch a Bangladesh v Afghanstan one dayer on a dustbowl with 15 people in the ground. I've set for alarm and can't wait for the real stuff to begin !

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