News24

Clarke savours victory

2011-11-22 12:00

Johannesburg - Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke, at the helm for only his second full tour, said despite his poor individual performance with the bat, he could not be happier about his team’s victory to level the two-Test series against South Africa at the Wanderers on Monday.

"When you're captain and you have a great series, it's more special than when you perform individually," said Clarke.

"I didn't score many runs in this Test match and yet it feels like I just got my first double-hundred for Australia."

Clarke said the second Test would go down as one of his greatest moments in cricket after Australia chased down 310 for victory - the highest successful run chase at Johannesburg's Wanderers Stadium.

"The way we got beaten in Cape Town and then to be able to fight back, and the roller-coaster throughout the Tests, the light, the weather, the chasing the record last-innings total - for so many reasons, it's one of my most special Test matches and I'll remember it for a long time."

Despite scoring 151 in the first innings of the Newlands Test, Clarke and his team managed a total of 46 in the second innings, to record Australia’s worst total in over 100 years and their fourth worst total in history.

By his own admission, Clarke said it was one of the worst moments in his life and they were rightfully criticised for it, but the ability to fight back was of more importance.

"After a horrible batting performance in Cape Town, something we certainly weren’t proud of, we managed a record run chase in tough conditions.

"The facts of this entire series are that we drew the Twenty20 series, we won the one-day series and now we have drawn the test series against a fantastic opposition in their own backyard."

"We should be so proud of that, that’s an amazing performance by Australian cricket in my opinion."

Going into the match, it was no secret that Ricky Ponting, Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson were under tremendous pressure to perform but all three came good for Australia in the second innings with the bat.

Ponting (65) shared a 122-run third wicket stand with Usman Khawaja when Australia were in trouble at 19/2 and the former captain made his first half-century in seven matches.

Brad Haddin, on his way to his 55, shared two half-century stands, with Michael Hussey and Mitchell Johnson.

Johnson, a far cry from his previous Wanderers Test in February 2009, where he took 4/25, had only taken one wicket in each of South Africa’s innings and in desperation shortened his run up in the second innings.

His unbeaten 40 with the bat, however, steered his team to victory.

He had also contributed 38 runs (not out) to their first innings total of 296.

Clarke said they had "stood up" and deserved a lot of credit for that.

"I hope they proved themselves once again to you guys [the media] and to the people that do doubt them."

"They don't need to prove anything to anybody in that change-room and they certainly don't need to prove anything to me.

"I've made it clear that Ricky Ponting has been a large part of the success we had in Sri Lanka and here and I'd love to see that continue.

"I'd love to see him making runs, no doubt like all of us, but he's been a great contributor to the team on and off the field."

Clarke'stlast words went to 18-year-old Pat Cummins who took five wickets on debut and scored the winning runs with a boundary.

"He's an amazing talent but we've got to be smart and make a plan for him," said the Australian captain.

"He's got the potential to be an amazing cricketer for Australia, and we need to make sure we look after him."

SAPA