Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 2nd day December 6, 2013

Clarke, Haddin tons put Australia in command


England 1 for 35 trail Australia 9 for 570 dec (Clarke 148, Haddin 118, Harris 55*, Broad 3-98) by 535 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

It has been a while since an Australian captain has looked as serene during an Ashes Test as Michael Clarke did at the Adelaide Oval.

During a period of England domination, the uncomprehending exasperation of Ricky Ponting has been followed by Clarke's lurking fear that his own Ashes story could be debilitated by injury.

Yet here Clarke was, the second day into the second Test, continuing his love affair with this ground with an unflustered century which with every graceful moment stated his intent to become the Australian captain who regained the Ashes. The blissful manner in which he dealt with the England attack, with his vice-captain Brad Haddin offering sterling support, will only quicken the belief in Australia that the balance is shifting irrevocably in their favour.

That sensation also resides in the figure of Mitchell Johnson, only more violently. Nothing England contrived came close to his immediate threat. He sand-blasted Alastair Cook aside with his 10th delivery, every ball above 148kph until the kill was applied, the ball searing past Cook's outside edge to strike off stump.

Michael Carberry and Joe Root stabilised England for the rest of the 20 overs they had to survive, but they were distinctly fortunate to survive some high jinks in the final over. Root's eagerness to see out the day drew him into an inexcusable off-side single which would have run out Carberry had Chris Rogers hit the stumps. Then Australia opted not to review the final ball of the day when replays showed Carberry would have been out lbw. Root had reason to be as relieved as Carberry.

Australia had hammered home their authority by the time they declared 10 overs into the final session. Clarke reached 148 in five and three quarter hours when he became the first Test victim for Ben Stokes, seeking to work him through square leg and chipping a gentle catch to short midwicket off a leading edge.

Clarke's stand with Haddin was worth 200 in 51 overs, a new record for the sixth wicket for any team in Adelaide. Haddin fell for 118 to Stuart Broad in the third over after tea, his fourth Test century reaffirming in aggressive fashion that he has turned the back-to-back Ashes series into one of the most productive periods in his Test career. England had designs upon dismissing Australia, 5 for 273 at the close of the first day, for around 350, only to become increasingly bereft as they gave up another 297 runs in 68 overs. England conceded 12 sixes, five to Haddin, a tally assisted by Adelaide's short square boundaries.

Australia's total was their highest in Ashes cricket since they amassed 674 for 6 declared against England in Cardiff in 2009, a match in which England also combined the spin of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar with little reward. England had fielded two spinners in Australia for the first time for 33 years, but the gamble demanded that they remained in touch in the first innings in the hope of dividends later in the game.

By the time England followed up Clarke's dismissal with more consolatory wickets, a victory to tie the series at 1-1 looked an increasingly unlikely proposition. Mitchell Johnson hoicked Swann's offspin to mid-on and Stokes, occasionally revealing an ability to leave the right-hander off the pitch, had Peter Siddle caught at the wicket. But Ryan Harris deposited Swann for two successive slog sweeps into the members to keep Australian spirits high and after tea became the eighth Australian to pass 50 in a series that is not quite two Tests old. That statistic, above all, should trouble England.

Clarke's sixth Adelaide hundred in nine Tests, and his 26th of all, was his second in succession, following his century in Brisbane when Australia's domination was assured. This one was a perfectly-constructed affair with the Test in the balance, made all the more noteworthy because of occasional suggestions that first his back and then his ankle were troubling him more than the England attack. When he was dismissed, his average in Adelaide Tests was 104.75, a standard that even The Don - Adelaide's most revered figure - could not quite match.

Virtually everything that could go wrong for England in the morning did as Clarke and Haddin batted through the morning session with commendable enterprise. Stokes missed out on a first Test wicket because of a no-ball and the list of half chances to elude England grew as they failed to press home their hard-won position of equality from the first day. They were in a rush to take wickets with the new ball 10 overs old at start of play, but their threat softened even before the Kookaburra ball did.

England will reflect that the morning might have turned out differently. Clarke's determination to dominate the left-arm spin of Panesar from the outset almost went awry as he skipped down the pitch to his first ball of the morning and spooned it over extra cover, marking his fifty with relief as the ball evaded Stokes. But by the time Panesar was withdrawn after four overs, the mood was set.

England also had a glimmer of a chance to dismiss him when he was 91. Again Clarke's foot movement was ambitious, this time to the offspin of Swann, and his glance thudded through the hands and into the ankle of Ian Bell at backward short leg. A tough catch missed, Bell, and the wicketkeeper Matt Prior, then failed to gather cleanly to pull off a run out as Clarke dived back into his crease and rose with the sense that fortune was favouring the brave.

Haddin was an impressive accomplice, but he, too, had one or two moments which fell his way. James Anderson, with no swing to sustain him, looked listless, but when he produced a good bouncer to Haddin, on 30, the hook shot fell short of Panesar, who reacted cumbersomely at fine leg as the ball sailed out of the unfinished stand. It was barely a catch, although in keeping with the ground works, Panesar also seemed to be wearing concrete boots.

Stokes imagined that his first Test wicket had come in his third over of the day when he produced an excellent delivery to have Haddin, on 51, caught at the wicket. He had already fielded congratulations from his team-mates for his first Test wicket when replays showed he had overstepped.

Haddin could not resist a jokey congratulation to Stokes at the end of the over about his first Test wicket that wasn't, and as Stokes' manner suggested an appetite for continuing the conversation, the umpire Marais Erasmus intervened to calm the situation. As the afternoon wore on, the calm became increasingly hard for England to stomach; on a sunlit evening, as Johnson burned in, calm was something they could only dream of.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Richard on December 7, 2013, 3:36 GMT

    @Bonehead_maz:- Had the same thing myself. A broken thumb fluffing a return catch in the nets and never the same again. Pins and needles yep, and if you start to lose full feeling in the bowling hand it's the beginning of the end. Never the same control or rip afterwards.

  • Neil on December 7, 2013, 2:17 GMT

    2929 - hello? How many wake up calls do you want. This team has been riding their luck on the back of poor performances for nearly 2 years. The signals were clearly there.

    Batting has been very poor and the over reliance upon Anderson and Swann clearly highlighted. Unfortunately Flower and Gooch buried their heads in the sand, and picked the same team regardless of form on the thinking that things "will come good".

    The current performances are spineless. The batting capitulates, throwing wickets away. Bowling is toothless and impotent. Poor ground fielding. It's totally unacceptable and heads must roll.

  • Paul on December 6, 2013, 22:28 GMT

    I actually don't mind who wins as long as it's a great game. In the bad old days there was a wearisome inevitability about waking up in the morning to find out that we were once again on the receiving end of a complete stuffing. It wasn't even worth finding out what time the highlights were on tv as it would only mean more profits for the brewery as I drowned my sorrows. Brisbane was a reminder of the way it used to be and it wasn't fun.

    If England don't put up a fight, Cardiff style, this series could get boring. It looks like they are losing interest and don't want to be there. I think Flower will go next year and it will be a shame if he leaves after a stuffing this winter after all the good he's done but it is definitely time for someone new to come in. And I'm not sure it should be Ashley Giles, who's just another one from the same team with the same ethos. We'll see.

  • Dummy4 on December 6, 2013, 21:56 GMT

    @Landl47, Not just in the UAE, England also played like this in NZ and against SA at home last year. I think the English hierarchy has become so myopic in their game plans and with their playing roster that slipping performances and efforts just haven't shown up on their radars. A bloke like Finn may not fit into Flowers death by dot balls game plan but he'd be taking wickets! Similarly I don't understand how Gary Ballance, who was the Lions only performer out here last year and a proven performer on our bouncier, faster tracks isn't getting a game, Probably because Joe Root has been earmarked as the next captain and Flower and co. simply can't see that Aus have shut him down completely.. Another thing I don't understand is England 'taking chances' with their team selection here, but in effect, by pushing Root up to 3 and not Bell or KP they are not really taking a chance at all. Sending in KP at three would have been sending a message, no-one else in the team can do what he can!

  • shashank on December 6, 2013, 21:47 GMT

    It is beyond doubt that England have some very good players who will be remembered as greats by the end of their career,but the problem is with players like root,stokes,etc.It is very important that each of the players should perform heavily when he gets going,not that he is performing his own part.Cricket has no boundations and no own parts,one person can change the game.KP did it in 2005 and 2011,cook at last time in Australia. so what matters, how heavily a person can perform on his day?now,when these guys are not performing,can others rise to the occasion.The truth is that mediocre will never glorify the game and an extended run should always be awarded to miraculously talented players.And one more thing,now don't compare Anderson with steyn,as he is actually nothing,records as well as,performances will approve it.

  • John on December 6, 2013, 21:16 GMT

    @Rooboy - Both countries have their fairweather fans/cheerleaders and both countries have their regular fans/commenters who give honest opinions. I guess DH has just noticed the former re Aus fans , just like we've noticed some of the fans who seemed to have disappeared since things started to go wrong for England

    @InvisiblePJs on (December 6, 2013, 10:12 GMT) Gillian Anderson - used to be in the X files

    @ Sugath on (December 6, 2013, 11:31 GMT) Think you have to look at who was in that Australian batting line up and the form they were in and compare it with the form Eng batsmen have been in

    @xtrafalgarx on (December 6, 2013, 15:58 GMT) Disagree with the tone of most of your comms but you're spot on here. The missed chances could have cost us big but it was us who missed the chances , bowled the no ball etc. Well not me personally but you get the drift

  • Dummy4 on December 6, 2013, 20:33 GMT

    Cook's tentative footwork against Johnson typified the English batsmen - they look at sea against the fast men! I can't wait for Perth since it promises to be a slaughter of Lillee/Thomson proportions!

  • Richard on December 6, 2013, 19:51 GMT

    That Carberry missed-referral has left a bad taste in my mouth. I detest the referral system.

    Lyon's accuracy must improve. Too short and too full with successive deliveries is an all too common occurrence, and is, quite frankly, not good enough.

    Kudos to Joe Root. We dips our lid to anyone who can wear one with a smile.

  • disco on December 6, 2013, 19:44 GMT

    @ John Powell on (December 6, 2013, 15:46 GMT), well if you want to play the 'charmed life' game, where to you draw the line. What about KP being dropped on 0 then he goes on to win the Ashes? What about Kasper being given out incorrectly which similarly would have changed the result. Maybe you can say that England had a charmed life to win the Ashes in 2005/6 OR maybe they just played better cricket and earned their luck.

  • Murray on December 6, 2013, 18:49 GMT

    Anyone else notice Swann shaking his bowling hand like he had pins and needles ? I wonder if that has to do with nerves in a not quite right elbow ?