Blazing bats dominate

Michael Clarke established himself as a once-in-a-generation player, as the skipper, along with David Warner and Mike Hussey, batted an injury-hit South Africa into submission in the second Test.
Nanjing Night Net

Clarke finished day one unbeaten on 224. His Bradman-like run continuing as he became the first Test cricketer in history to score 200 or more four times in a calendar year.

Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey look at the scoreboard near the end of yesterday’s first day of play.

David Warner celebrates his century.

Australia equalled their highest ever total for a day’s play, finishing an emphatic 5-482 at stumps.

The Proteas are reeling with Vernon Philander ruled out before play and Jacques Kallis injuring a hamstring while bowling.

Warner (119) and Hussey (103) made stunning hundreds, but again it was the fearless skipper who was the magic.

Since taking over as Australian captain in August 2011 he has made 1838 runs at 79.91.

In 2012 Clarke has 1265 runs – more than Bradman’s greatest ever mark in a year – and he averages 140.55.

Clarke has already posted scores of 329 not out, 210 and 259 not out since January before his heroic work yesterday from 243 balls (39 boundaries, one six).

The 31-year-old is yet to be dismissed this series for a total of 488 runs.

“It’s really nice to be making runs. The downside in this great game is when you’re not you find it really hard to make your next run. That’s happened a lot for me through my career.

“When I get in I’m trying to cash in because I know there will be tough days again.”

The ageless Hussey scored his second straight ton and combined with his captain for a spectacular 272-run partnership.

Warner played himself out of a slump and set the tone for the innings with a swashbuckling performance. He helped form a 155-run stand with Clarke and the pair contributed most of Australia’s 178 runs in 26 overs in the middle session.

“I knew if I could swing as hard as I could and put momentum back on him [the bowler] I would take [pressure] off me,” said Warner, who faced just 112 balls and creamed 16 boundaries and four sixes.

Pace weapon Philander was ruled out before play with a back problem, while Kallis and Dale Steyn were forced off the field with hamstring injuries.

Coach Gary Kirsten said star allrounder Kallis might be gone for the Test, however Steyn (1-62) returned and ended up dismissing Hussey at the end of the day.AAP

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