Double or Nothing for Clarke

LS Sport’s Sam Heath takes stock of Michael Clarke’s phenomenal achievement…

Australian captain Michael Clarke put his name into the record books this week by becoming the first man to score four double centuries in a calendar year when he scored 230 against South Africa in Adelaide.

To put this into perspective, not even the great Donald Bradman, considered by many to be the greatest batsman of all time managed to score four double centuries in a single calendar year. Bradman however, did come close, managing to score three in 1930 against England.

All too often records like this are claimed against the smaller sides in world cricket, but not in this instance. Clarke’s double hundreds haven’t come against any of the so-called test ‘minnows’ such as Bangladesh, instead they have come against the top ranked test side in the world, South Africa, and India who are currently 1-0 up in their test series against England.

Clarke has silenced any remaining critics who doubted his ability and in doing so has put his side firmly back on the map after a frustrating few years since the retirement of Shane Warne, Glen McGrath and others.

In his 12 innings in 2012, Clarke has amassed 1265 runs at an average of 140 runs per innings with a highest score of 329 not out against India in January. To say that this has been an exceptional year for the Australian captain is somewhat of an understatement and it would come as no surprise to most if he were to be named ICC Cricketer of the Year.

As an Englishman, it is difficult to watch an Australian score runs with such ease whilst not feeling slightly concerned for England’s chances in the two Ashes series next year.

While England’s Alastair Cook looks certain to score his fourth century in as many test matches as captain, it seems that his Australian counterpart is even less concerned with the pressures that captaincy of the national side brings with it.

Since Clarke took over the reins from Ricky Ponting in 2011, he has led his side to series victories against the West Indies, India and Sri Lanka. In addition to this, with Clarke’s batting contributions, Australia are in a great position to beat the number one side in the world, South Africa.

If he can continue this scintillating form into next year then it looks like Alastair Cook and England will have to up their game if they are to have any intentions of preventing the ‘Little Urn’ from heading back Down-Under.

For now though, Clarke will have his sights set firmly on beating South Africa in the current series. For someone in such dazzling form, who’s to say that the fifth double hundred is out of reach?

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