Michael Clarke 161*, South Africa v Australia, 2014


Australia 494-7dec (Clarke 161*, Warner 135; Duminy 4-73) & 303-5dec (Warner 145) beat South Africa 287 (Johnson 4-42) & 265 (Harris 4-32) by 245 runs

OPPOSITION ATTACK: Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel, JP Duminy, Kyle Abbott, Dean Elgar

Michael Clarke’s penultimate century for Australia wasn’t his most fluent, but it was his bravest and most meaningful. Triumph in the series-decider of the 2014 series against South Africa in Cape Town would knock the hosts off top spot in the Test rankings; a mighty effort considering the decrepit team Clarke had inherited three years earlier.

The physical examination dealt to him by Morne Morkel on the opening day was nothing short of chilling. Clarke was physically beaten up from around the wicket, repeatedly struck on the arm and body. Sometimes he tried to evade, sometimes he didn’t bother and accepted the pain. Surviving, he later prospered to bring up an inspirational ton after a night tending to his earlier blows.

After the Test we learned that his shoulder had been broken while batting on that opening day. But Australia had won. The captain had done it. Clarke barely made a run in the five Tests before this, and would only pass 50 once more in his career, but it mattered not. For on this day he had led them back to the top of the world, and at that moment nothing else mattered.

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