Blogs & Opinion


Mike Atherton:

Most Popular Posts:

Opinion Archive:

The Ashes: Michael Clarke 'tamed' England's bowlers at Old Trafford

Mike Atherton - Michael Atherton Posted 1st August 2013 view comments

Mike Atherton says Michael Clarke "led from the front" as Australia passed 300 on the first day of the third Test at Old Trafford.

The Baggy Greens skipper reached an unbeaten 125 at stumps - the first century by an Australian in the 2013 Ashes so far - as the tourists responded from their 347-run mauling at Lord's to end the day on 303-3.

Clarke: notched vital hundred for Australia at Old Trafford

Clarke: notched vital hundred for Australia at Old Trafford

Read our day one report here

Sky Sports pundit Atherton believes Clarke, who moved up from five to four in the batting order, was under immense heat after failing to score more than 51 in the series and seeing his side slip 2-0 down to England.

Clarke has had a number of issues but he confronted them superbly batting at four.

Michael Atherton
Quotes of the week

But he says the 32-year-old, who has been troubled by a back injury, displayed his class on a warm day in Manchester and showed his team-mates how to combat their opponents' bowlers.

"Australia have had an excellent day when they needed a good day and the captain, under significant personal pressure, played a gem of an innings," Atherton told Sky Sports Ashes.

"Clarke has had a number of issues - the shocking performance of his team at Lord's, the fact he hadn't really stamped his authority on the series, and thirdly the issue of where he bats - but he confronted them superbly batting at four, where statistically he has not had much success.

"He is a fine player, one of the best in the game, but he needed to lead from the front and show that England's bowlers could be tamed - he had a beautiful little battle with Graeme Swann throughout the day - and [he did]."

Critical

Atherton also reserved praise for 35-year-old opener Chris Rogers - recalled at the start of the series after a five-and-a-half-year stint in the international wilderness - who notched a fluent 84 after Australia had won the toss and elected to bat.

But the ex-Lancashire man noted, too, the continued troubles of Rogers' partner, Shane Watson, who, after being dismissed lbw three out of four times this summer, edged Tim Bresnan to slip fielder Alastair Cook to depart for 19 at Old Trafford.

"I thought Rogers' contribution at the top of the order was critical," added the erstwhile England skipper. "He got his team off to a confident start while Watson was very introspective and deserved a hundred.

"England offered him lots of opportunities to drive through the offside and he didn't disappoint; he played some beautiful shots down the ground and through the covers, and when they got a bit straighter he clipped through mid-wicket.

"Watson, though, looks like someone who is struggling both mentally and technically and the great problem in batting is that when you try and correct one fault, sometimes it opens up areas elsewhere.

"If he is trying to keep his legs out of the way and stay leg side of the ball (to counter the lbw), suddenly he becomes more vulnerable on the outside edge, and England threatened him a lot that way before they got him out."

back to top

Other Cricket Experts:

Latest Posts in Cricket:

Mike Atherton

Fan favourite

Test newbie Jos Buttler's electric batting can re-energise English cricket supporters, says Mike Atherton. ...

Latest News RSS feeds

England post huge total

Ian Bell returned to form with a century as England declared on 569-7 to take control of the third Test against India.

Bell happy to contribute

Ian Bell was happy to make a major contribution as England piled on the runs on day two of the third Test against India.

South Africa top Test rankings

South Africa regained the world No 1 Test ranking after their second Test against Sri Lanka ended in a stalemate.

Pietersen to play in Big Bash

Kevin Pietersen has signed up to play in Australia's Big Bash competition with the Melbourne Stars.

Sales announces retirement

Northamptonshire batsman David Sales is to retire at the end of the season after a 19-year professional career.

Features

Cricket Podcast: T3 D2

Cricket Podcast: T3 D2

England batted too long at The Ageas, says Warney, who wants to see another Hussain-Strauss duel...

Eng v Ind: T3 D1

Eng v Ind: T3 D1

Ian Botham and Alastair Cook himself reflect on the skipper's morale-boosting 95.

CWOT podcast

CWOT podcast

Download for views on Cook's captaincy, England's senior players and India's rising stars.