Clarke smashes century before rain ends play

March 03, 2014 - 1:52:08 am

Michael Clarke of Australia bats on the second day of the third and final Test against South Africa at Newlands in Cape Town yesterday. Clarke remained unbeaten on 161 when rain ended play.

CAPE TOWN: Michael Clarke remained unbeaten on 161, one of the more heroic of his 27 Test hundreds, as Australia reached 494 for seven before rain brought an early end to the second day of the series-deciding third Test against South Africa yesterday.

Clarke reached 150 for the 10th time in his Test career and in doing so moved past three Englishman on the all-time run scorers list - Geoffrey Boycott, Kevin Pietersen and David Gower.

His innings was interrupted just past the midway point of the afternoon session by a downpour, together with high winds, which forced the players from the field at Newlands for the remainder of the day. 

“The advantage now is we start at 10am every day, so we’ll still get some overs back,” Clarke told reporters. “The forecast is pretty good for the next three days.”

He added he would be happy to give up the chance of a double-hundred if the team decide to declare and put South Africa in to bat.

“If we think declaring overnight is the best way (to win) then it doesn’t bother me.”

Should Australia not declare overnight, Clarke will resume today with Ryan Harris (four).

The Australian captain took a battering on day one from pace bowler Morne Morkel, who struck him a number of times, including a sickening blow to the back of the head. But he showed admirable composure to tough it out on what is a flat wicket and having been unbeaten on 92 overnight, was able to bring up his hundred, though not before spending 24 balls stuck on 99.

He reached his century off 215 deliveries with 11 fours and Newlands is now the first ground outside of Australia where he has two tons to his name.

Clarke thanked Australia physio Alex Kountouris and doctor Peter Brukner for ensuring he was able to resume his innings yesterday morning.

“It was a long night, a longer morning to be honest. Without their help, no way would I have got on the park today.”

South Africa picked up just one wicket in the morning session but added three more after lunch, including two in consecutive balls from part-time spinner JP Duminy (four for 73), who took his career-best figures.

Steve Smith (84) had looked in immaculate touch before he played onto his stumps off Dean Elgar.  AFP

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