Clarke, Haddin tons put Australia in command

It has been a while since an Australian captain has looked as serene during an Ashes Test as Michael Clarke did at the Adelaide Oval. During a period of England domination, the uncomprehending exasperation of Ricky Ponting has been followed by Clarke’s lurking fear that his own Ashes story could be debilitated by injury.

Yet here Clarke was, the second day into the second Test, continuing his love affair with this ground with an unflustered century which with every graceful moment stated his intent to become the Australian captain who regained the Ashes. The blissful manner in which he dealt with the England attack, with his vice-captain Brad Haddin offering sterling support, will only quicken the belief in Australia that the balance is shifting irrevocably in their favour.

That sensation also resides in the figure of Mitchell Johnson, only more violently. He sand-blasted Alastair Cook aside with his 10th delivery, every ball above 148kph until the kill was applied, the ball searing past Cook’s outside edge to strike off stump.

Michael Carberry and Joe Root stabilized England for the rest of the 20 overs they had to survive, but they were distinctly fortunate to survive some high jinks in the final over. Root’s eagerness to see out the day drew him into an inexcusable off-side single which would have run out Carberry had Chris Rogers hit the stumps. Then Australia opted not to review the final ball of the day when replays showed Carberry would have been out lbw. Root had reason to be as relieved as Carberry.

Australia had hammered home their authority by the time they declared 10 overs into the final session. Clarke reached 148 in five and three quarter hours when he became the first Test victim for Ben Stokes, seeking to work him through square leg and chipping a gentle catch to short midwicket off a leading edge.

Clarke’s stand with Haddin was worth 200 in 51 overs, a new record for the sixth wicket for any team in Adelaide. Haddin fell for 118 to Stuart Broad in the third over after tea, his fourth Test century reaffirming in aggressive fashion that he has turned the back-to-back Ashes series into one of the most productive periods in his Test career.

Summarized scores: England 1 for 35 trail Australia 9 for 570 dec (Clarke 148, Haddin 118, Harris 55*, Broad 3-98) by 535 runs

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