Clarke delivers masterclass to keep Australia on top

Tourists finish on 507-7 at tea on second day of third Ashes Test.

Afp August 02, 2013
Clarke scored his 10th century in 27 Tests as captain, with his average as skipper of 65.15 well above his career mark of 52.52. PHOTO: AFP

MANCHESTER: Australia captain Michael Clarke made 187, his highest Test score against England, as the tourists maintained their grip on the third Ashes match at Manchester’s Old Trafford ground yesterday.

At tea, Australia finished on 507 for seven.

Brad Haddin was 57 not out and Mitchell Starc was unbeaten on 54, with the tourist looking to stretch their first innings score.

Graeme Swann, the leading wicket-taker this series, had figures of five for 149 runs in 41overs — the 17th time in 55 Tests the England off-spinner has taken five or more wickets in an innings.

Australia came into this match on the back of six straight Test defeats — their worst run of results since 1984.

Clarke, rather like Allan Border at the start of the Australia great’s captaincy career in the era of the mid-1980s, has spent much of his time in charge knowing that if he doesn’t make a major score, few of his top-order colleagues are likely to do just that.

Paceman Stuart Broad took his 200th Test wicket as England finally saw the back of Clarke.

But perhaps the most remarkable figures of all belonged to England spearhead James Anderson, still wicketless on his Lancashire home ground, with a return of nought for 116 in 33 overs.

Australia resumed on yet another sunny day well-placed on 303 for three with Clarke 125 not out, after scoring the tourists’ first century of the series, and Steven Smith 70 not out.

A single then saw Clarke surpass his previous highest Test score against England of 136 at Lord’s in 2009.

But a stand eventually worth 214 ended when Smith top-edged a slog off Swann’s sixth ball yesterday and holed out on 89 to Jonny Bairstow at midwicket, leaving Australia 343 for four.

His departure brought in left-hander David Warner, booed by large sections of the capacity crowd having missed the first two Tests of this series after being banned for punching England’s Joe Root in a Birmingham bar in June.

But there was applause when Clarke struck three fours in as many balls off Bresnan. The first, a late cut, saw him to 150. The next was commandingly driven on the up and through mid-on before Clarke dispatched Bresnan through extra-cover.

Warner, however, fell for five when an edge off Swann deflected via wicketkeeper Matt Prior’s thigh to Jonathan Trott at slip.

Clarke’s more than seven-hour innings eventually ended when, cramped for room, he tried to steer Broad down to third man only to play on. In total, he faced 314 balls with 23 fours.

Soon afterwards Peter Siddle was bowled by Swann.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2013.

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