Michael Clarke leads a baggy green onslaught

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    David Warner is in career-best form. (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.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn?t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world?s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (30)

    • Roar Guru

      November 23rd 2012 @ 6:47am
      B-Rock said | November 23rd 2012 @ 6:47am | ! Report

      Tremendous performance, but no mention of the pitch (was at work so didn’t see any coverage)- is there any chance of a result or are we likely to see a 400+ from SA and another draw?

      Not taling anything away from the batting but it Just shows how critical injuries are – particularly when it strikes your leader – looks like a reverse of the last Wallabies test in SA where we should have lost by 40+ with a massive injury toll, with no leaders left on the field to “right the ship”

      • Columnist

        November 23rd 2012 @ 7:09am
        David Lord said | November 23rd 2012 @ 7:09am | ! Report

        That was the best opening day Test batting display I have ever seen. In cricket terms B-Rock, the Adelaide pitch is a “belter” with runs galore there for the taking. But take nothing away from Michael Clarke, David Warner, nor Mike Hussey they were superb, making full use of a far smaller Adelaide Oval thanks to the massive reconstruction in progress. The Aussies should get 600-plus, the skipper a second triple hundred this year, which translates to only Australia can win, and the best the South Africans could hope for – an honourable draw.

        • Roar Guru

          November 23rd 2012 @ 8:23am
          B-Rock said | November 23rd 2012 @ 8:23am | ! Report

          Short boundaries = plenty of runs but will the pitch enable the bowlers to get 20 wickets?

          At 3/50 it looked likely but hard to tell if its incredible batting, injuries, ineptitude or the pitch (most likely a bit of each?) Which resulted in a 1/400 perfromance

          • November 23rd 2012 @ 8:32am
            jameswm said | November 23rd 2012 @ 8:32am | ! Report

            They’ll struggle, that’s for sure. Kallis will be batting down the order, which will be interesting.

            Amla beomes a really central figure. Must bowl well to him.

          • November 23rd 2012 @ 9:06am
            Matt F said | November 23rd 2012 @ 9:06am | ! Report

            The weather will be hot and dry over the next few days so that should help the pitch break up and it should start to spin, and have some variable bounce, late day 3 or early day 4.

      • November 23rd 2012 @ 8:08am
        jameswm said | November 23rd 2012 @ 8:08am | ! Report

        B-Rock it wasn’t a road. There was a bit in it with the new ball if you bowled the right areas and kept the seam up.

        The SAffas suffered with Kallis’s injury, Steyn didn’t look 100% for most of it, and they took to Tahir in what seemed like a premeditated attack.

        Thrilling stuff.

        • November 23rd 2012 @ 9:59am
          Russ said | November 23rd 2012 @ 9:59am | ! Report

          Agreed. There was plenty of movement. And South Africa have a new ball, so they might reasonably roll Australia for 550, with plenty of time to bat.

          It was the demolition of Morkel that really set the tone of the day. Against Quiney, Hussey and Cowan he took 1/16 off 4 balls. Against Warner, 1/48 off 44 balls. But Clarke hammered him for 64 off 43. And given the injuries, dominating Morne was what turned the day from a win into a rout. The over where he hit him for five 4s to bring up his 150 was as good a piece of batting as you’ll ever see.

    • November 23rd 2012 @ 7:18am
      Sailosi said | November 23rd 2012 @ 7:18am | ! Report

      A wonderful achievement from Clarke, but also a sad reflection of the state of test match wickets in Australia and the fact that hardly any bowlers do anything with the ball in the air these days.

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      • November 23rd 2012 @ 10:51am
        kid said | November 23rd 2012 @ 10:51am | ! Report

        Why is there so much negativity around? If batsman play well it must have been too flat of a wicket and inept bowling and if the bowlers play well the opposition must have batted poorly or the wicket must have been a potato field. Its not just cricket, its other sports, politics, celebrity just everything. Its sad, all people want to do is give reasons why things aren’t as good as what they appear. So many people wish they’d seen bradman play, well you’ve had a glimpse of it from clarke this year, no one is silly enough to say clarke is as good as bradman but results speak for themselves. Get to your local test match and cheer them on, don’t come here and belittle their achievements. Sorry about the rant… the glass is half full guys.

        • November 23rd 2012 @ 12:08pm
          Bearfax said | November 23rd 2012 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

          I dont think the comments are being negative. Rather they are being realistic.

          No one is questioning that these cricketers are not the cream of the game, a couple of them all time greats or heading that way.

          But many things besides a cricketers skill determine what happens in a match.

          The ground and state of the wicket are one.

          The weather, wind, humidity, heat etc are another.

          Even the crowd has some effect.

          And of course all cricketers like all sports people go through highs and lows, as well as questions of age, experience, variable batting and bowling skills, and sometimes the general temperament of the team as a whole.

          Doesnt take much at this level of cricket to swing a match. And sometimes the bowlers arent quite up to their usually standard. Sometimes there’s niggling injuries or a batsman works out a bowlers style and plunder them. Or a batsman’s flaw is discovered, such as with Hughes, and the batsman has to go back to basics and adjust their style. Or a fieldsman is just that little bit slower inviting twos instead of ones.

          There are so many variables in a game above pure talent. In this case its the ground that is just that little bit more batsman friendly,that offers the opportunity for bigger scores. That’s just cricket.

          • November 23rd 2012 @ 12:50pm
            kid said | November 23rd 2012 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

            bearfax, I understand that context is important, but if a guy hits 200 against any attack people are going to say they were not bowling well. There were some great deliveries to clarke yesterday. Nicks that didn’t go to hand, close LBW shouts, and good deliveries that were hit to the boundary. 6 aussie batsman scored 10 or under, are they just really bad players? Don’t concentrate on the context concentrate on the achievements. Well bowled today SA and well played yesterday by Aussies.

            • November 23rd 2012 @ 1:19pm
              Bearfax said | November 23rd 2012 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

              I more or less agree with you in some ways Kid. Clarke is in exceptional form, has been for 12 months. I dont think any attack would have done much better against him. Same to a lesser degree is Hussey, who is also playing some of the best cricket of his career.

              Of the other batsmen I’d say this.

              Ponting: A champion player but on the decline. Has often had trouble early in his innings and with such a good bowling group early on it was always going to be a 50-50 chance he’d get out early. He’s far from the Ponting of old, but still better than some of the younger ones coming through

              Quiney.:Another of these Micky post 30 years sub 40 average batsmen he keep promoting. He’s had a good two years but I suspect he’s out of his league

              Warner: Potentially Australia’s answer to Sehwag. At present he’s susceptible early on in his innings but once he gets started he’s the best attacking player we’ve got. Early days this one and will fail more than he succeeds for a while. But he’s worth holding onto for those magical innings and his brilliant fielding. Also bowls quite well

              Cowen: Despite his very creditable century, this fellow in my mind is a fill in. Still has a test average of 36, yet Watson with a better average wasnt good enough as a batsman only. As I see it he will score a descent score about once every 5-6 innings, hardly test level standard when you consider he’s over 30

              So in answer, Australia has two very good and reliable and in form batsmen, one ex-champion on the wane but still potentially giving a good score once every 3-4 innings. A swashbuckler, who can swing a game in your favour in a session but still not yet consistent enough. And two post 30 year olds who are going to get out cheaply much more than get a decent score.

              So yes early on South Africa bowled very well. They then lost Kaliis and faced the blunting of their attack from Warner and then the very in form Clarke. Their bowling prowess then started to wane

              • November 23rd 2012 @ 3:58pm
                kid said | November 23rd 2012 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

                You make excellent points but I’d much rather hear this conversation
                Person 1:Gee didn’t Clarke Hussey and Warner play well yesterday.
                Person 2: Yeah, Its a shame Kalis was injured he was on fire and Morkel was great this morning.
                Person 1: It’s my shout, yell out if there’s a wicket…

      • Roar Guru

        November 23rd 2012 @ 12:05pm
        Jiggles said | November 23rd 2012 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

        Rubbish. The bowling of South Africa was woeful. They deserved to be carted.

        • November 23rd 2012 @ 12:15pm
          Bearfax said | November 23rd 2012 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

          With one of your best strike bowlers back in the sheds early, what did you expect. They weren’t woeful, just not up to their usual standard. Part of that was the ground, and part of that may also have been that their efforts were blunted by having to take up the slack.

    • November 23rd 2012 @ 7:35am
      Gus said | November 23rd 2012 @ 7:35am | ! Report

      The demolition of so much tradition? The Chappell stands where only about 10 years old and the bradman stand about 25. All the history of the adelaide oval remains intact, all the runs and wickets have still been scored/taken. The history is on the ground not in the outer

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      • November 23rd 2012 @ 8:45am
        Christo the Daddyo said | November 23rd 2012 @ 8:45am | ! Report

        Yep, agree. The plans for the rebuilt Adelaide Oval look fantastic – can’t wait for it to be finished.

        And David’s other comment – “making full use of a far smaller Adelaide Oval thanks to the massive reconstruction in progress” doesn’t make any sense. The construction is happening on the other side of the fence – the ground isn’t any smaller.

        • November 23rd 2012 @ 9:00am
          David Lord said | November 23rd 2012 @ 9:00am | ! Report

          Not so Christo, it’s much shorter especially on the straight drive. Adelaide used to be a true oval shape, yesterday was more circular. In days gone by batsmen could run five with a straight drive, yesterday it was two, or a flat-chat three.

          • November 23rd 2012 @ 12:06pm
            Christo the Daddyo said | November 23rd 2012 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

            Yes, it’s shorter, but they’ve widened it as well. So overall the playing field is roughly the same.

            But you’re right, the days of batsmen being able to run five are gone I think. Although I’m pretty sure they’ve used boundary ropes to ‘even it out’ for some years now anyway.

            Which is a shame – it’s nice seeing a range of playing conditions around the country (and world).

    • November 23rd 2012 @ 7:36am
      Gus said | November 23rd 2012 @ 7:36am | ! Report

      Oh yeah. Top days cricket yesterday!

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    • November 23rd 2012 @ 8:10am
      John 360180 said | November 23rd 2012 @ 8:10am | ! Report

      David – why do you describe the pitch as “a belter”.

      It was a road and clearly favoured the batsmen.

      Just don’t understand why everyone calls a “good pitch” one that gives the bowlers no chance.

      Surley a “good pitch” is one that is fair to batters and bowlers alike.

      • November 23rd 2012 @ 8:30am
        doozel said | November 23rd 2012 @ 8:30am | ! Report

        A “belter” is another description of a “road”. It means good for batting.

      • November 23rd 2012 @ 9:07am
        Matt F said | November 23rd 2012 @ 9:07am | ! Report

        Adelaide is always a road for the first 2-3 days. Generally it will break up and start to spin after that which ensures that you still get a result more often than not

    • November 23rd 2012 @ 8:46am
      Dan said | November 23rd 2012 @ 8:46am | ! Report

      Incredible day

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