The Ashes may be up for Australia, but attaining the personal accolade of top overall series runscorer is still a big possibility for skipper Michael Clarke after he rattled 187 and 30 not-out at Old Trafford.
Such is the wafer-thin make-up of Australia’s batting line-up that everyone knew the form of their captain marvel with the willow would be paramount in stopping England waltzing away with the Ashes this summer.
A single half-century return from Clarke in the first two Test matches set the alarm bells ringing though and sure enough England reached a 2-0 nothing lead before anyone had blinked. However, a stunning first innings knock of 187 in the third Test finally helped propel the Aussie’s into a winning position, before the weather had the final say on the destination of the urn.
Still, by adding 217 runs onto his previously modest series total, Clarke now has 319 runs against his name and has staked a huge claim to become the overall top run scorer, making his odds against price of 7/4 register a lot louder than snicko.
That majestic display of run gathering puts Clarke firmly in the wing mirrors of England’s most trusted bat so far Ian Bell at 4/6, who is just 60 runs ahead as the Ashes head for Durham next.
Ashes debutant Joe Root is still some 77 runs further back at 12/1, while Kevin Pietersen at 10/1 still has 173 runs to make up on Bell from this juncture.
However, among this quartet of 200+ batsmen, Clarke is still the out outstanding candidate.
The last time Australia contested the Ashes on these shores back in 2009, Clarke’s team-high 448-run contribution to the tourist’s cause, saw him named as their man of the series.
Clarke posted two separate centuries during that series, as he had in 2006 in Australia and last year November became the first ever batsman in Test cricket to reach four double centuries within one calendar year.
Now he’s announced himself in the series with that imperious knock, he’ll take some stopping in this market.