Current Aussie captain Michael Clarke is featuring in his 100th Test at Perth, the third Ashes Test of the ongoing series. Ever since he made his debut back in 2004, Clarke was always destined for greatness. A decade down the line, he has more than lived up to the expectations. Clarke’s Test career numbers are spectacular, and befitting of the talent he possesses. He is on the verge of crossing 8000 runs and averages a very healthy 52 with as many as 26 hundreds. Still only 32, Clarke can definitely end up with a lot more.
Clarke made a spectacular start to his Test career, with a sublime 151 at Bangalore in October 2004. The striking aspect of the innings was the manner in which he dealt with the spinners. The biggest test for Australian batsmen in India has always been their battle against the slower bowlers, but Clarke found the going easy in his very first Test, which was a clear indication of his talent. Clarke’s performance was actually instrumental in Australia winning a Test series in India after ages. He contributed classy knocks of 91 and 73 in the series clinching tie at Nagpur. Clearly, Clarke was here to stay.
The talented youngster showed in his very next series that his debut effort was no fluke. He put together a wonderful 141 against the Kiwis at Brisbane, which meant he had a scored tons away and at home very early in his career. As it happened with most batsmen, Clarke’s career graph also took a tumble following a marvelous beginning. Even while looking good on a number for occasions, Clarke failed to come up with the big knocks. Except for a 91 at Lord’s against England in the 2005 Ashes, Clarke did not have much to show during this period.
The tide for Clarke changed in December 2006 when he smashed 124 versus England at Adelaide. The innings saw Clarke bat with renewed confidence, and for a while to come he terrorised bowlers the world over. The Adelaide hundred was followed by an unbeaten 135 at Perth in the very next Test. After being out of the side for most of 2007, Clarke returned to Test cricket with a bang, smashing an unbeaten 145 against the Sri Lankans at Brisbane in November that year. Clarke got a few more tons, but if opponents thought they had seen the best of ‘Pup’, they were completely misplaced.
Clarke’s best form actually came after he took over as skipper even though it is true that his leadership qualities remain in question. He got 151 against South Africa at Cape Town in November 2011 and 139 against New Zealand at Brisbane the following month. The skipper however reserved his most awesome form for the Indians when they visited Australia in 2012. He smashed an unbeaten 329 at Sydney, blasted 210 at Adelaide and added two more record double hundreds in the series against South Africa later in the year – 259 not out at Brisbane and 230 at Adelaide in back to back Tests.
The Aussie skipper failed in the first innings of his 100th Test, but would be keen to make an impression in the second innings, given a chance.
--By A Cricket Analyst