Australia’s Clarke relishing leader role with big scores

Australia’s Clarke relishing leader role with big scores

BRISBANE, Australia - Agence France-Presse
Australia’s Clarke relishing leader role with big scores

South Africa’s Dale Steyn (R) attempts to stop a drive by Michael Clarke (L) on day four of the first cricket Test between South Africa and Australia. AFP photo

Michael Clarke’s rich vein of form continued with another big innings yesterday that threatened to give Australia an outside chance of beating South Africa in the first Gabba Test.

Skipper Clarke ripped apart the vaunted Proteas’ bowling to be undefeated on 218 at stumps, batting right through the fourth day, to help push the Australians 37 runs ahead of the world’s best team with a day to play.

It continued an outstanding 2012 for the Australian captain following his unbeaten 329 and 210 against India at home last January. Clarke, 31, is the highest scorer in Tests this year with 1,000 runs at 111.11 prior to this match. He has maintained an average of above 60 since assuming the captaincy earlier this year from Ricky Ponting and is in the form of his life.

Leading the way

“I’ll say it’s coincidental, I’m trying to get better every day. It’s been to lead the way with the bat,” Clarke said.

“I’ve said for a while now, it’s not what you say, it’s what you do and Ricky (Ponting) certainly did that as captain of Australia for a long period of time. “He was scoring lots of runs and the boys followed. Hopefully I’ve got a few left in me.”

Clarke, who raised his 20th Test century in his 84th Test, said he had followed advice from Australia legspin great Shane Warne on his confident batting approach. “One of things Warney’s taught me over the years is the better the bowling, the more positive you’ve got to be and that was certainly my intent from the first ball I faced yesterday,” he said. “That is I wanted to be nice and positive and play my way, and put it back on the South African bowlers because I know they’re a very good attack.”

Although Clarke has been at the crease for 504 minutes with more time out in the middle to come on Tuesday, he hardly flagged in Monday’s final session of play. “For me it’s about being fit and strong,” he said.