It’s hard to pick fault in a near flawless performance. Australia dominated India pretty much from start to finish, the resulting innings and 68 runs victory was in no way flattering to the hosts. Yet, I feel, that Michael Clarke was a touch conservative in the second Test at the SCG.
With Australia a million runs ahead and with the comfortable prospect of two and a half days worth of play remaining, Clarke declared his side’s first innings at 659/4.
With his own score an impressive 329*, it was almost as though he declared at the games exact half way point (drinks during the afternoon session) to show to the media and fans that he’s all about the team, not himself.
From a selfish, personal perspective, Clarke should have gone on to have a crack at Brian Lara’s world record 400*.
He’ll probably never get another chance, where his side is so far ahead and with so much time still to play.
There is a weird fascination in Australia with not surpassing the record of others. It is, somehow, against the spirit of Australian cricket to want to beat Don Bradman. The Aussies will often go to extraordinary lengths to prove that they are team players and to show deference to their elders.
I feel that is what Clarke did in Sydney.
There is a clear and obvious argument that shows he did, correctly, put the team first. He acknowledged that he was only thinking of a number of runs from which Australia would win. They also needed time to bowl out India a second time on a flat track.
He was right. They did need time and plenty of it. But two and a half days? It doesn’t scream confidence in your bowling unit that you reckon they’ll need 225 overs to take 10 wickets, even if there was talk of rain arriving on day four.
Clarke could have batted on past tea and Australia still would have had plenty of time. As it was, the result was wrapped up on day four.
A whole day to play with – Clarke should have been a lot more selfish. Australia would still have recorded a thumping win.
This is, of course, but a minor blemish (if indeed it is a blemish at all, dependant upon your point of view) in a hugely impressive performance by Clarke and Australia.
They murdered India and look set for a resounding, confidence boosting series win. For the position in which they currently find themselves, Australia owe much to Clarke.
Perhaps he just needs to be a bit more selfish…
By Miles Reucroft