Michael Clarke is the best batsman in Test cricket but the Australian captain can expect a barrage of bumpers from now on.
That’s the verdict of Australia’s former coach Mickey Arthur, who has heaped praise on Clarke’s 161 not out in the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.
Arthur, who was sacked as coach on the eve of the 2013 Ashes series in England, says he was privileged to see Clarke in his golden era.
“People will go on and say what was his best innings?,” Arthur told Radio 3AW on Tuesday.
“You think of the triple century at the SCG and hundreds all around the world. He was phenomenal.
“But this was the one innings where he really struggled. He took a battering from Morne Morkel.
“His feet weren’t going. He was leaving balls that he normally just hits straight down the ground.
“Sometimes those are your best innings. He’s going to look back on this innings and say `geez, I really battled for that hundred’.
“It does redefine you.”
Arthur did add a note of caution, warning Clarke that at 32 his capacity to play the short ball will be constantly tested.
“If you have to be a real harsh critic of Michael Clarke. I think Michael Clarke is the best batsman in world cricket,” Arthur said.
“I certainly think him, AB De Villiers and Virat Kohli are the best three.
“(But) you look at the way he plays the short ball and you’ve got to think he’s going to be tested more and more as his career goes on.
“As he gets older those eyes just get a fraction slower and that’s one area of his game that’s going to need a little bit of attention.”
Arthur, who coached South Africa to the No.1 Test ranking before later taking charge of the Australians, also paid credit to Proteas’ skipper Graeme Smith.
Smith has announced mid-match that he’s quitting international cricket.
Arthur says Smith, who boasts the most Test wins by a captain, deserves to go out with some fanfare.
“He’s had an horrendous series,” Arthur said.
“Technically he has looked pretty poor against the pace of Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris.
“It just frees him up to go out and play and enjoy his last innings of Test cricket without the constant scrutiny and criticism that has come his way around this series.”