John Townsend: Michael Clarke wears the mantle of Don Bradman with singular style in Ashes 2013-14

He is the first Australian cricketer in 70 years to match the influence of the greatest exponent of the national game

Michael Clarke is no Don Bradman, though he is the first Australian cricketer in 70 years to match the influence and scale of achievements of the greatest exponent of the national game.

Both prolific runscorers; both highly influential as playing selectors, though Clarke has since lost that role; both cold fish in their own singular ways.

Returning to the city that Bradman called home for 66 years and the ground he dominated for the second half of his career, Clarke evoked the implacable spirit of his predecessor.

As his deputy and great mate Brad Haddin said, Clarke was now unchallenged as the best batsman in the world. The Australia captain’s sparkling 148 passed a swag of milestones to further illuminate his standing in the modern game.

Haddin is no slouch himself in his vibrant autumn coming, adding 118 in Australia’s imposing 570 for 9 and joining Clarke for an even double-century stand that was the best at the ground for the sixth wicket. “Once he gets past 20 he goes on and gets really big hundreds,” Haddin said.

“His form over the past two years has been as good as anyone in the world. He is very good to watch.”

Unless you are an England bowler toiling to find a gap in his defences.

There appeared to be chunks rather than chinks missing from his defensive armour when Clarke was bounced out cheaply in the first Ashes contact at The Gabba a week or two ago but that appears as distant as the concept of Monty Panesar as an Ashes threat.

Clarke is no stranger to winning doubters to his advantage.

He was booed at the Sydney Cricket Ground – his own home patch – three years ago when he made his first appearance as captain, and again last summer, though the latter was more light-hearted and driven by the urge to see Mike Hussey one last time as Australia counted down a small target.

Those boos were long forgotten yesterday, when Clarke received the loudest cheer of the match when he reached three figures.

It was as evocative as the minute’s silence to honour Nelson Mandela and lasted longer.

But the most significant marker yesterday may have come from a simple nudge to midwicket during his 70s.

While Clarke went on to his 26th Test century, equalling Greg Chappell’s tally, and completed his 12th as captain to pile more misery on an England attack flattened by a pitch offering significantly less assistance than on the first day, the push into the leg side also took him past Bradman’s tally of runs as Australia’s captain.

Clarke now has 3,221 runs since he was appointed to the post he appeared to have coveted from the start of his career. Bradman produced 3,147, albeit in seven fewer matches.

Only Bradman and Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakkara, among regular Test captains, surpass Clarke’s return of 64.42 runs an innings in charge to prove that he is never more effective than when laden with responsibility.

And there is no greater task vested in an Australian captain than regaining the Ashes, particularly when they have been surrendered in three straight series.

Like Bradman, Clarke’s greatest asset is the volume of runs he supplies himself, though it is impossible to quantify his resolve to regain the urn after losing 3-0 during the Australian winter. But Adelaide also brings out the best in a player whose cast-iron concentration and light feet are ideally suited to a surface which is not likely to test him with the steepling bounce that has occasionally brought him unstuck at more verdant venues.

Clarke has scored half-centuries, at the very least, in his past eight visits to Adelaide and he would have been eyeing a third straight double until he fell after nearly six hours in the middle.

His sixth ton at the ground followed scores of 124 (2006-07), 118 (2007-08), 110 (2008-09), 210 (2011-12) and 259 not out last summer, and lifted his tally at the ground to 1,257 runs at the spectacular average of 104.74.

He is one of only five batsmen with 1,000 runs at the ground but is coming hard at Allan Border (1,415) and Ricky Ponting (1,743) and could conceivably be the first to 2,000.

John Townsend is Cricket Writer for “The West Australian”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Extras
indybest
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee