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Clarke - Honours even

Australia recover from early trouble in Johannesburg

Clarke: upbeat on Australia's prospects

Vice captain Michael Clarke was pleased by Australia's fight back after a poor start to the first Test against South Africa at the Wanderers.

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"The honours are probably even after the first day. I think we can take some positives out of it."

Michael Clarke

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The tourists slipped to 38-3 after choosing to bat before a 113-run, fourth-wicket stand between Ricky Ponting (83) and Clarke (68) bailed them out.

And Marcus North (47no) - one of three debutants in Australia's line-up along with Phillip Hughes and Ben Hilfenhaus - continued the good work in the company of Brad Haddin (37no).

The sixth-wicket duo put on an unbroken 72 to see the visitors to the close, which came 22 overs early due to bad light and rain, at 254-5.

"I think (it was a good comeback)," said Clarke. "It was obviously tough for the boys with the new ball.

"It swung the whole day with the conditions, but there was certainly a lot of seam there with the new ball.

"The honours are probably even after the first day. I think we can take some positives out of it.

"Obviously Northy on debut played really well, Brad Haddin looks fantastic at the moment and the way the skipper batted was brilliant today under pretty tough conditions really.


"So there's plenty of positives and if we can come out tomorrow morning and continue to play well, we'll be in a really good position."

Asked what would be a good score on the pitch, Clarke replied: "I think if we can get above 300 on that wicket and I guess the forecast is pretty similar through the next three or four days, I think we'll be in a very good position.

"So it's an important morning tomorrow for us. Going forward in this game, especially if the conditions remain the same, runs on the board are going to be crucial.

"We've got a combination of bowlers. I think there's certainly enough in the wicket and if it stays overcast, I think we going to see swing throughout the game and I think our attack suits that."

South African paceman Dale Steyn, who picked up three of the wickets to fall, felt the hosts could have performed better but for a lack of practice in the longer form of the game.

The Proteas have only played 50-over and Twenty20 cricket since the third Test of their tour of Australia concluded in early January.

By contrast Australia played a three-day warm-up game last week and Steyn believes his side could have done with a similar hit out as their bowlers allowed the tourists off the hook after lunch.

Early movement

"There was a little bit of movement early on with the new ball especially," said Steyn, who finished with 3-82 in 19 overs.

"Because we haven't been on the park since January 7, it was difficult for some of our bowlers, especially with the patience not being there, to string a good few overs together.

"It didn't quite happen and it looked like Clarke and Ponting just got off the hook there a little bit. But once we got the ball in the right areas, it showed there is something out there for the bowlers."

But Steyn is confident the bowlers will come out firing on Friday: "I think some of the bowlers today will walk off and say we could have bowled a little better, but we haven't been on the park for some time, so we'll take it as a dead even day.

"Anything can happen tomorrow morning, with the new ball around the corner, if we can strike early then things are back in our hands.

"So I think it's quite close after the first day. If we can come out tomorrow fresh, I think we can restrict them to something decent."