Michael Clarke continued his innings today to become the first man to score a triple century in a Test at the SCG. All the better that it was the 100th Test at that venue. Clarke never looked like getting out as he pushed his score to 329 before surprising everyone, perhaps even himself, as he declared the innings closed between lunch and tea, just after Hussey reached 150.
Michael Clarke became only the sixth Australian to score a triple century and this was just the third triple ever scored in Australia. Clarke’s triple today was just the 25th ever scored in Test cricket. It stamped him as “the man” of Australian cricket, as if it still needed stamping. Clarke has already scored four centuries as Test captain, all of those coming in the past seven Tests. Interestingly, during that timeframe, he has also made five single figure scores – so he needs to work on his consistency, as does the entire team.
It is hard to comprehend the difference between all out for 47 and a score of 4/659, declared, especially considering that after being 3/37, Australia lost just 1/622. I didn’t understand it then and I don’t understand it now.
It is also hard to comprehend how and why batsmen can make big scores, especially scores of 300 plus. Prior to this Test, Clarke’s highest Test score was 168 and I had him pegged as a guy who would not make big scores – a bit like Mark Waugh. I think it is a delicate balance of temperament and ability. Almost without exception, the triple century makers have been super stars of the game.
Consider that dashers like Sehwag and Gayle both have two triples. Perhaps that is more ability than temperament. Then we have Bradman and Lara who are undisputed masters of huge scores, both having two triples and other big two hundreds. Conversely, two of the other great modern champions, Kallis and Tendulkar don’t have that many doubles. Kallis made his top score last night and that 224 was just his second double hundred. Tendulkar does have six doubles but that is not that many when you consider his prodigious ability and that he has made 51 test centuries. And not one score over 250.
Looking at some other leading lights, Steve Waugh had just one double and it was exactly two hundred, and Border had two doubles with a top score of 205. These men were giants in cricket. On the other hand, gritty little Justin Langer scored three double centuries, all well over 200 and a top score of 250. Stephen Fleming converted just nine of his 55 half centuries into triple figures but more than half of those went past 150 and one third passed 200 and two of those went past 260! It is hard to fathom the art of scoring big.
But enough on magic milestones. There is a match to be won and as I expected, the Australian quicks are finding it harder going on a pitch offering little assistance, for the first time this summer, really. And they were not helped by their wicker keeper. Haddin dropped a pretty straight forward chance in the second last over of the day. Don’t be deceived – he may have made it look hard – but the catch was barely more difficult that regulation and he barley laid a glove on it. And that is the second time in as many Tests that he has grassed a critical chance.
It is raining in Sydney tonight. Perhaps that might freshen things up.