Bold Clarke cannot force victory
South Africa’s batsmen dug in to earn a draw in the first Test with Australia after Michael Clarke followed a record-breaking score with an aggressive declaration.
Clarke this morning took his overnight tally of 218 to 259 not out, the highest Test total at the Gabba as he eclipsed Alastair Cook's unbeaten 235 two years ago, and then declared with a first-innings lead of 115 an hour before lunch.
The Proteas suffered some early wobbles in their reply, but reached tea on 114 for three and had pressed on to 166 for five when stumps were drawn at the end of a quiet evening session.
Having posted 450 with only 10 batsmen, the top-ranked tourists head to Adelaide for the second Test of three - beginning on Thursday week - having ceded early initiative in the series.
Clarke continued his imperious form as Australia extended yesterday’s 37-run advantage.
The skipper matched Cook's total with a three when he drove Vernon Philander through cover and surpassed the Englishman in the following over, hitting Morne Morkel straight back down the ground for four. Morkel did not take kindly to that, delivering a blow to Clarke’s stomach next ball, but it did nothing to knock the right-hander out of his stride.
Mike Hussey added some drama to the proceedings too as he scored his 17th Test century.
Having resumed on 86, he was on 99 when Philander launched a strong lbw appeal. Hussey was only saved when television replays showed the slightest inside edge. He reached three figures next ball via a quick single to point but, at the start of the next over, the left-hander fell for 100 - caught at cover off Morkel.
Matthew Wade came in to add an unbeaten 19 before Australia declared on 565 for five.
The move paid early dividends as Alviro Petersen was caught behind in the second over, loosely driving at James Pattinson.
However, Australia could not add to the pressure before lunch despite a couple of close calls. First Graeme Smith edged a Peter Siddle delivery just short of Hussey in the slips, and then Pattinson bowled Hashim Amla with a no-ball.
The hosts continued to probe for breakthroughs in the afternoon and their eagerness to get on with the task saw them use up their reviews in attempts to get rid of Amla and Jacques Kallis, the latter claim never standing a chance.
But between the two, Pattinson had Smith held at second slip for 23 and Amla was caught at short cover off Siddle for 38 just before tea.
In the evening session Kallis, who like Amla had struck Nathan Lyon for six, edged the spinner to slip to go for 49.
AB de Villiers and Jacques Rudolph batted through most of a low-key finale, until the latter was lbw to Lyon and failed to overturn the decision on review. De Villiers finished 29 not out alongside Philander.