Adelaide: Michael Clarke’s stylish 148 on Day II of the second Ashes Test against England on Friday was another glorious consummation of his love affair with Adelaide Oval, and moved his deputy Brad Haddin to rate him the world’s best batsman.
The pair shared a record sixth-wicket partnership of 200 at the re-developing ground to drive Australia to a mammoth declaration of 570 for nine before firebrand pacer Mitchell Johnson captured the key wicket of captain Alastair Cook after tea to leave England a shaky 35 for one at stumps.
The 32-year-old Clarke has now scored four centuries from his nine Tests in Adelaide, not including two further double-centuries and four 50s to average a brilliant 104.75 and it was almost a shock to the crowd of 35,000 when he miscued a drive to be caught after lunch.
The crowd rose as one to give Clarke a standing ovation, however, and vice-captain Haddin continued the tributes later after blasting his own way to 118.
“I think so… You can definitely make a good argument for it,” the wicket-keeper said when asked if Clarke was the world’s best batsman.
“Once he gets past 20, he seems to go on and get some really big hundreds. His form over the last two years has been as good as anyone in the world. It’s been good to watch.
“I think you’ve seen since Michael’s taken over (as captain), his batting’s gone to another level.
“We know he’s such a good player of spin bowling, he’s so quick on his feet.”
Haddin and Clarke put on 116 in the first session to take the game away from England, with the ’keeper riding his luck at times, surviving a caught behind dismissal on 51 when bowler Ben Stokes overstepped his mark.
In typically belligerent fashion, the 36-year-old Haddin did not bother with poking singles and twos with his fourth Test century in reach, and after getting to 80, brought up the milestone by blasting a six and four fours.
Haddin lost his place in the Australian team to Matthew Wade last year when he had to leave the tour of the Caribbean to attend to his sick daughter.
He was recalled ahead of the first Ashes series this year as Australia sought to toughen up their brittle batting order.