Clarke con­tin­ues love af­fair with Ade­laide

Aussie cap­tain’s ro­mance at Oval burns bright with 4th ton in 9 Tests

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

MICHAEL CLARKE’S stylish 148 on day two of the sec­ond Ashes Test against Eng­land on Fri­day was another glo­ri­ous con­sum­ma­tion of his love af­fair with Ade­laide Oval, and moved his deputy Brad Haddin to rate him the world’s best bats­man.

The pair shared a record sixth-wicket part­ner­ship of 200 at the re-de­vel­op­ing ground to drive Aus­tralia to a mam­moth dec­la­ra­tion of 570/9 be­fore fire­brand pace­man Mitchell John­son cap­tured the key wicket of cap­tain Alas­tair Cook af­ter tea to leave Eng­land a shaky 35/1 at stumps.

The 32-year-old Clarke has now scored four tons from his nine Tests in Ade­laide, not in­clud­ing two fur­ther dou­ble­cen­turies and four 50s to av­er­age a bril­liant 104.75 and it was al­most a shock to the crowd of 35 000 when he mis­cued a drive, to be caught af­ter lunch.

The crowd rose as one to give Clarke a stand­ing ova­tion, how­ever, and vice cap­tain Haddin con­tin­ued the tributes later af­ter blast­ing his own way to 118.

“I think so. You can def­i­nitely make a good ar­gu­ment for it,” the hard-bit­ten wick­et­keeper told re­porters when asked if Clarke was the world’s best bats­man.

“Once he gets past 20, he seems to go on and get some re­ally big hun­dreds. His form over the last two years has been as good as any­one in the world. It’s been good to watch.

“I think you’ve seen since Michael’s taken over (as cap­tain), his bat­ting’s gone to another level. We know he’s such a good player of spin bowl­ing, he’s so quick on his feet.

Haddin and Clarke put on 116 in the first ses­sion to take the game away from Eng­land, with the keeper rid­ing his luck at times, sur­viv­ing a caught be­hind dis­missal on 51 when bowler Ben Stokes over­stepped his mark.

In typ­i­cally bel­liger­ent fash­ion, the 36-year-old Haddin did not bother with pok­ing sin­gles and twos with his fourth test cen­tury in reach, and af­ter get­ting to 80, brought up the mile­stone by blast­ing a six and four fours.

Haddin lost his place in the Aus­tralian team to Matthew Wade last year when he had to leave the tour of the Caribbean to at­tend to his sick daugh­ter.

He was re­called ahead of the first Ashes se­ries this year as Aus­tralia sought to toughen up their brit­tle bat­ting or­der, and has been in top form at the crease this se­ries, res­ur­rect­ing his team’s first in­nings in the open­ing test in Bris­bane with a 94 and scor­ing 53 in the sec­ond.

“It showed me cricket was just a game,” Haddin said of his fam­ily trou­bles last year.

“I’m pretty lucky I didn’t score that 100 up at Bris­bane when all my kids were there so I’m pretty relieved I got it here when they’re not here.

“I think it’s the state of mind,” he added of his form. I’m pretty com­fort­able with where my game’s at the mo­ment. I’m en­joy­ing be­ing a part of this team mov­ing for­ward and just en­joy­ing my cricket.”

Haddin also en­joyed keep­ing to John­son as the in-form pace­man hurled down 150km/h mis­siles that thumped into his gloves. One struck num­ber three bats­man Joe Root on the chest and a num­ber whis­tled past opener Michael Car­berry’s ears.

“It’s good fun,” Haddin said. “My worst part of the week is the seven min­utes hav­ing to face him in the nets.” – Reuters

AP PHOTO

LOVE STORY: Aus­tralia’s Michael Clarke on the drive as Eng­land’s Matt Prior looks on dur­ing play in Ade­laide, where the home side’s cap­tain once again scored highly.

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