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

'Overdue' Clarke toasts gutsy 161*

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'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

  • Tumbarumbar 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?

  • Shaggy076 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.

  • 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.

  • Hello13 on March 3, 2014, 9:30 GMT

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

  • dunger.bob 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.

  • Jagger 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.

  • dunger.bob 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.

  • dinosaurus 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.

  • din7 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

  • Gabbagod 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 !

  • Tumbarumbar 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?

  • Shaggy076 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.

  • 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.

  • Hello13 on March 3, 2014, 9:30 GMT

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

  • dunger.bob 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.

  • Jagger 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.

  • dunger.bob 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.

  • dinosaurus 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.

  • din7 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

  • Gabbagod 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 !

  • dunger.bob on March 3, 2014, 1:19 GMT

    I've noticed that a substantial percentage of SA supporters don't rate Clarke. Not a patch on ABD or Amla they say. .. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to keep battling away with our sub-standard captain and players. What choice have we got when you take into account Clarke being the best batsman we've got .. I've also got the impression that they think we Aussies don't have any idea what a great team is. Their team has managed to avoid defeat for five long years. Gee that's impressive. I wish we could produce a team that could do something like that. .. maybe one day if we keep practising.

    South Africa is a good, solid and quite capable team but made to look better than it is because everyone else is crap. Simple as that. .. Our team is hopeful of changing all that and anyone who thinks we can't eventually do it doesn't know their cricket and certainly doesn't know us. .. Look out world, we're starting to get serious again.

  • MrKricket on March 2, 2014, 23:04 GMT

    Great innings - but as Clarke said about his last ton at Newlands if it doesn't lead to a win it will be forgotten. Well as long as it doesn't lead to a loss! Hard to see that happening from here. I think he'll bat on just to have a look and maybe declare quickly like he did at Centurion if there's anything in the wicket. If it's flat he might as well go for the double ton and 550 if the tail can hang in there. Harris doesn't hang around without scoring.

    SA have three batsmen now in good form so could be hard to shift.

  • rht_rex on March 2, 2014, 22:49 GMT

    @Bernard- May be no one is caring about this???? South Africa Vs Australia test series is the type of stuff that gives the life to TEST cricket. An intense battle between the two quality test sides is worth more enjoying thing than anything going on in any cricket in the shorter format of the game to me.

  • on March 2, 2014, 21:34 GMT

    Top knock from Pup, great support from Smithy too.

  • Beertjie on March 2, 2014, 21:20 GMT

    Agree @Damien Wilson on (March 2, 2014, 17:13 GMT) . To quantify: There will be no more rain or other stoppages. 294 overs. 120 sufficient to bowl out SAF for 340. 50 overs to score 200. 120 overs to score 360. No worries about them being good enough to get that against our attack, but enough time for Lyon to win it. Reminds me of AB's declaration target at Adelaide in '94.

  • PrasPunter on March 2, 2014, 18:56 GMT

    @Bernard, is it ? Is something happening in Asia ? Is an "Asia" Cup being played ?

  • Forza_Scuderia on March 2, 2014, 18:06 GMT

    Surviving the assault from Morkel and coming out with a big ton is the stuff of legend. An innings the tough as nails Steve Waugh (Still my favourite cricketer) would have been proud of.

    An interesting fact is that Clarke has now gone on to score a ton in 19 consecutive innings when he has passed 30. When this guy gets in he stays in...

  • Chris_P on March 2, 2014, 17:43 GMT

    Not too shabby of a performance from what one posted as a "2nd tier batsman". This was probably a defining innings from Pup, moreso if they win.

  • on March 2, 2014, 17:17 GMT

    If there was any doubt on Clarke's character it should be gone now. One of the toughest test centuries seen for some time. Even Boonie, Border and Waugh would be proud of that one.

  • on March 2, 2014, 17:13 GMT

    Brilliant knock from Pup! With Steyn gone from the match, I think time is more of a concern. The Saffas don't score as quickly unless AB is batting, so they don't need to worry about chasing a big target. If Aus bat for half a session tomorrow, they could be mid-550s (if they're good enough). It would take the Saffas into the final day just to get that total, pretty much counting out the chance of either side winning. Reckon the best option is to declare overnight, and use the swing and seam of the early morning to get into the Saffa top order. If they sneak two or three wickets in the first hour, it will have been worth it. The Saffas would get past the follow-on target (maybe 100 behind), then leaving the better part of two sessions to set a total of 350-400 to get in four sessions. If they're good enough, they deserve the victory!

  • on March 2, 2014, 17:07 GMT

    No comments! Amazing! Anyway congrats to Michael. May be no one is caring about this , because of the Asia cup is going on.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on March 2, 2014, 17:07 GMT

    No comments! Amazing! Anyway congrats to Michael. May be no one is caring about this , because of the Asia cup is going on.

  • on March 2, 2014, 17:13 GMT

    Brilliant knock from Pup! With Steyn gone from the match, I think time is more of a concern. The Saffas don't score as quickly unless AB is batting, so they don't need to worry about chasing a big target. If Aus bat for half a session tomorrow, they could be mid-550s (if they're good enough). It would take the Saffas into the final day just to get that total, pretty much counting out the chance of either side winning. Reckon the best option is to declare overnight, and use the swing and seam of the early morning to get into the Saffa top order. If they sneak two or three wickets in the first hour, it will have been worth it. The Saffas would get past the follow-on target (maybe 100 behind), then leaving the better part of two sessions to set a total of 350-400 to get in four sessions. If they're good enough, they deserve the victory!

  • on March 2, 2014, 17:17 GMT

    If there was any doubt on Clarke's character it should be gone now. One of the toughest test centuries seen for some time. Even Boonie, Border and Waugh would be proud of that one.

  • Chris_P on March 2, 2014, 17:43 GMT

    Not too shabby of a performance from what one posted as a "2nd tier batsman". This was probably a defining innings from Pup, moreso if they win.

  • Forza_Scuderia on March 2, 2014, 18:06 GMT

    Surviving the assault from Morkel and coming out with a big ton is the stuff of legend. An innings the tough as nails Steve Waugh (Still my favourite cricketer) would have been proud of.

    An interesting fact is that Clarke has now gone on to score a ton in 19 consecutive innings when he has passed 30. When this guy gets in he stays in...

  • PrasPunter on March 2, 2014, 18:56 GMT

    @Bernard, is it ? Is something happening in Asia ? Is an "Asia" Cup being played ?

  • Beertjie on March 2, 2014, 21:20 GMT

    Agree @Damien Wilson on (March 2, 2014, 17:13 GMT) . To quantify: There will be no more rain or other stoppages. 294 overs. 120 sufficient to bowl out SAF for 340. 50 overs to score 200. 120 overs to score 360. No worries about them being good enough to get that against our attack, but enough time for Lyon to win it. Reminds me of AB's declaration target at Adelaide in '94.

  • on March 2, 2014, 21:34 GMT

    Top knock from Pup, great support from Smithy too.

  • rht_rex on March 2, 2014, 22:49 GMT

    @Bernard- May be no one is caring about this???? South Africa Vs Australia test series is the type of stuff that gives the life to TEST cricket. An intense battle between the two quality test sides is worth more enjoying thing than anything going on in any cricket in the shorter format of the game to me.

  • MrKricket on March 2, 2014, 23:04 GMT

    Great innings - but as Clarke said about his last ton at Newlands if it doesn't lead to a win it will be forgotten. Well as long as it doesn't lead to a loss! Hard to see that happening from here. I think he'll bat on just to have a look and maybe declare quickly like he did at Centurion if there's anything in the wicket. If it's flat he might as well go for the double ton and 550 if the tail can hang in there. Harris doesn't hang around without scoring.

    SA have three batsmen now in good form so could be hard to shift.