Michael Clarke leads a baggy green onslaught

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David Warner (AAP Image/Tony McDonough)

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It’s taken 2061 Tests and 135 years, but there’s just one batsman who has ever cracked four double centuries in a calendar year – Michael Clarke.

The Australian skipper led a run-riot at Adelaide Oval yesterday rarely seen in Test cricket.

While half the grandstands are demolished in a major up-grading of the picturesque ground, three baggy green batsmen demolished the South African attack to the tune of 5-482, the second highest opening day Test score, pipped only by the 1910 Australians at the SCG, also against South Africa, with 6-494.

That vintage day saw Clem Hill crack 191, Warren Bardsley 134, Algy Gehrs 67, with Warwick Armstrong unbeaten on 43.

Yesterday’s vintage batting, after a rocky 3-55 start, belonged to Clarke’s unbeaten 224, David Warner’s 119, and Mike Hussey’s 103.

But Clarke is the story, 2012 being his year like none other:

* 329* against India at the SCG, the highest score at the famous ground.
* 210 against India at Adelaide.
* 259* against South Africa at the Gabba.
* And yesterdays unbeaten 224.

That leaves The Don and Ricky Ponting the next best on three doubles, or better, in a calendar year.

For Don Bradman it was the 1930 tour of England:

* 254 at Lords.
* 334 not out at Headingly, at the time the world’s highest individual score.
* And 232 at The Oval.

For Ponting it was home and away in 2003:

* 206 against the Windies at Port of Spain.
* 242 against India at Adelaide,
* And 257 against India at the MCG,

Three Australians showing the Test cricket world a clean pair of heels.

There have been 22 Test batsmen who have scored two double tons, or better, but only three have scored more than once.

The Don and Wally Hammond did it three times each – The Don in 1931, 1934, and 1937 – Hammond in 1928, 1933, and 1936.

Sachin Tendulkar helped himself to two years of doubles in 2004, and 2010.

To summarise yesterday:

Supreme – Michael Clarke’s 39 fours and a six with one sweetly timed shot after another. He shared a 155 partnership with Warner turning 3-55 into 4-210, and a record 272 for the fifth wicket with Hussey. Clarke’s highlight, racing from 132 to 152 with a dot ball and five boundaries off Morne Morkel’s 17th over after scoring his 21st Test ton.

Awesome – Warner’s 119 of just 112 with 16 fours and four sixes. His power and placement dismantled the South African attack. He rocketed through the 90s with a six and a four off successive deliveries to post his third Test century.

Majestic – Hussey’s 103 off 136 with nine fours and four sixes, his cover drives pure poetry in motion for his 17th Test ton.

Disaster – South Africa losing crack strike bowler Vernon Philander with a back spasm before the toss, and all-rounder Jacques Kallis to a hamstring during the first session after he had dismissed Ed Cowan and Ponting for just 17 off 3.3 overs.

Eyesore – the demolition of so much tradition at the ground. But a tick over 16,000 made use of what accommodation was left and were treated to 5.5 runs an over all day, and even higher with the Warner-Clarke partnership at 6.36 an over, and the Clarke-Hussey stand at 5.49 – unheard of Test stats.

Prediction – if Michael Clarke lasts the opening 30 minutes today, ink him in for another triple.

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