The over that read "4,0,4,4,4,4"!
The first test between Australia and South Africa at Brisbane ended in a draw with rain playing spoil sport for almost two days. There were many positives from the match for both the teams with Kallis, Clarke, Amla, Hussey and Cowan coming good for their respective teams. Amla and Kallis were their usual selves, playing what you could call an ideal test innings. They formed a crucial partnership which led South Africa to safety. On the other hand, Cowan got his maiden test century without any fuss, negotiating the Protean attack. But the man who undoubtedly stole the show was the Aussie skipper who made 259 not out from 398 balls. It was one of the best knocks ever played by an Australian. Full of class and aggression, Pup stole the show from the current champions of test cricket.
The most impressive thing – if one could limit his adjectives – would be his gesture to declare the innings when he was batting on 259 with more than a day remaining to get to the magical figure of 400 or at least, get to a triple century, twice in a year, a record which even the legends of test cricket would love to have. He had other plans, to think and act as a skipper, a selfless one who declared and did what was right for the team. It was a heroic thing to do, considering how the Aussies love their records.
The second test begun on the 22nd of November at Adelaide. Australia chose to bat first and were in a spot of bother losing Cowan, Ponting and Quiney in quick succession. Clarke walked in when the score was 55/3 and Australia in danger. He continued from where he had left off at the Gabba. He was striking the ball pretty well and the sound which emanated from the bat was pleasant to hear. He was in full flow, with plenty of poise and skill, playing like a pro among amateurs. He treated the bowlers with ridiculous disdain and smacked them all over the ground. He had an excellent partnership, first with Warner who made an aggressive 119 and then with Hussey. The beauty of his knock was his impeccable timing and footwork which kept us glued to the screen, devouring every shot of his, wanting to see more of his batting. The knocks of Hussey and Warner seemed oblivious to the fans, who were enthralled by the arrogant little “Pup” who stole the show.
Clarke was dealing in boundaries more than singles and doubles, which seemed pretty lame to the man on song. Steyn and Kallis went out with injuries and Morne Morkel was handed the job to save the South African face from Pup bashing. Morkel came on to bowl the 65th over and this is what happened:
Ball 1 :
Morkel bowled a length ball which was a bit outside off-stump. Clarke planted his foot forward and lofted it over cover for a scintillating boundary. His head remained still and the bat completed the follow through; it looked like a dancer coordinating his steps to suit the music. It was a blow to Morkel’s pride hitting him through the covers. But it was just the beginning of the massacre.
Short and wide outside off stump, Clarke hit it to point, a well timed shot but to the hands of the fielder. No runs.
Ball 3 :
Ball was on the good length and outside off stump. Clarke was in top notch form after the two boundaries which had boosted his confidence, and this time, he came forward and timed the ball past point to the boundary. It was shot from a man who was on fire and it showed from the way the bowler reacted.
Ball 5 :
Morkel bowled one close to his body, not too close but just close enough to drive. Clarke timed the ball, almost in a defensive fashion and called “wait” to Hussey who was on the non striker’s end waiting for his chance. The ball teased the fielder at mid-off, slipped through his fingers and was off to the boundary, a place where it belonged.
Ball 6 :
The last ball was the best of them all. Clarke was on 148* and was pumped after hitting 3 consecutive boundaries against one of the world’s best quicks. Morkel bowled a fuller length ball which pitched on the line of middle and off. Clarke was ready for the ball, he put his foot forward and drove the ball with complete elegance and control. It was shot from the man was reading the bowler’s mind. The ball was hit like a tracer bullet and was off to the boundary in a flash, even before the fielder could realize what had happened. The massacre was completed with Clarke mildly acknowledging the cheers from the fans for reaching 150 runs.
Clarke did not stop with that over and continued to dominate the Protean bowling attack for the rest of the day. He was in complete control of the proceedings and played some mind-blowing cricketing shots which kept the audience enthralled throughout the day. He reached his double hundred in style, his fourth in this calender year, a feat that has never been achieved till today. No man on the earth has got four double hundreds in a calender year in international cricket before. Clarke has played some phenomenal innings all throughout this year and has been dominating bowling attacks.
Clarke stayed on 224 not out at the end of the first day. He could well be the first man since Lara to get a quadruple century if he carries on in the same vein tomorrow. He needs a bit of support from the tail enders to achieve this immaculate record. He could well be the only man to hit 400, 300, 200, all in a single calender year. He could be the second Australian after the legendary Don Bradman to make two triples in a career if he crosses the 300 mark tomorrow and the only player to do it twice within a year. He could be the first skipper to make two triple centuries.
Clarke has got the time necessary to achieve this remarkable feat tomorrow and whether he achieves it or not, he is one class player who will go down in the history books.
All the best Pup!