Michael Clarke returns to the crease to hit a career best 168 in his finest ever innings, dedicating it to his now ex-fiance, Lara Bingle.
Summoning the spirit and fortitude of a skipper-in-waiting, Michael Clarke put a line under the controversy over his break-up with Lara Bingle in the only way he could; notching up his career best score in his greatest Test match innings.
Amidst one of the most publicised break-ups in recent times, Michael Clarke showed amazing character to score an unbeaten 100 in the first day of the opening Test against New Zealand in Wellington and going on to post 168 in Day 2
Fresh from his return from Australia, following his earlier withdrawal from the tour of New Zealand ahead of his break-up with model Lara Bingle, Clarke kept his off-field dramas out of mind to hit his 14th Test ton.
The century was felt all the more sweeter given the hardship he had faced over the last fortnight. Raising his bat and kissing the coat of arms on his helmet, the vice-captain was evidently more emotional than usual on notching up the triple figures.
“It [the century] was certainly better than being on zero. My first 10 runs took a hell of a long time today,” said the 28-year-old after stumps on Friday.
“It’s a very special feeling any time you make a hundred. It’s been a tough couple of weeks, but the support I’ve had from family and friends, and the support from [former fiancé] Lara [Bingle] as well has been tremendous.”
Dedicating the innings in particular to his ex- fiancé, Clarke added.
“Without her support, I certainly wouldn’t have been back over here.”
Clarke took an age to find his rhythm but said all he could think about after making 50 was moving on to the next milestone.
“I got to a stage about 80 when I said to [batting partner Marcus North] ‘I can’t stop thinking about my hundred’ and he said ‘if you see it mate, just hit it’,” said Clarke.
“I played some horrible shots from 50 to 100 and I had a little bit of luck. I’m really happy I got there, I wouldn’t have slept too much if I was on 98 or 99.”
On the second day, Clarke and North, who also amassed a century, had moved to a record 5th wicket partnership against New Zealand of 253, putting Australia in a commanding position (eventually declaring on 5/459).
Clarke’s demise eventually came when he charged and missed a clever delivery from Kiwi skipper Daniel Vettori that drifted down leg into the gloves of Brendon McCullum who whipped of the bails to end his superb knock.
Michael Clarke’s career best, 6 hour innings of 168 was scored off 253 balls at a strike rate of 66.4 and included 22 fours and 2 sixes.
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