Brisbane: Australia skipper Michael Clarke praised his team's character after they fought back from a miserable start to the first Test against South Africa to a position where they were eyeing and unlikely victory on Tuesday. Clarke's imperious 259 not out fired Australia's recovery and although ultimately the South Africans batted out the day for a draw, the hosts have the momentum in the three-Test series ahead of the second match in Adelaide.
Ever the team man, Clarke eschewed the plaudits for his own innings and was keen share the credit around, especially with Mike Hussey and opener Ed Cowan, who both scored centuries in big partnerships with their captain. "The team showed a lot of character after day one," said the 31-year-old, who was named Man of the Match for his record innings. "I wish we had a bit of play on that washed out day, but I think the boys deserve a lot of credit for their attitude.
"Our intent was the way it needs to be when you are playing against such a good team. "I think the way Ed Cowan and Mike Hussey batted they certainly showed that intent." Australia were reeling at 40 for three when Clarke came to the crease late on the third day - day two having been washed out by rain. He survived a few early wobbles but by the end of day four, had put his team back in the match with his third double century of the year, having also reached 1,000 runs for 2012.
Clarke was not satisfied with having wrestled his team back into content_cnion, however, and poured on the runs with Hussey on Tuesday morning before declaring with a 115-run lead to try and grab the win. Having come up short in that endeavour, Clarke was even unwilling to claim a psychological edge over the number one ranked Test nation before the action resumes at Adelaide Oval on November 22.
"Conditions are a lot different," he said. "At the end of the day, there's no result in this Test match. "We have to win this series to get back to being the number one Test team in the world, so we have to do our best to push for a win at every opportunity. "We need to prepare as well as we did for this Test match, but we need to execute better on day one of the Test with the bat or the ball." Australia also retained their unbeaten record at the Gabba, which stretches back to 1988, at least until the opening Test of the Ashes series next year.