Smith salutes ‘unbelievable’ Clarke

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Published: Wednesday 10th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Steven Smith paid tribute to Michael Clarke for the mental and physical strength he has shown in recent weeks after the pair fired Australia to 517 for seven in the first Test against India.

Australia skipper Clarke, who has helped comfort Phillip Hughes’ family in the wake of the batsman’s death and read a heart-wrenching tribute at his funeral last week, returned to the middle with Smith as Australia resumed on 354 for six in Adelaide.

Despite being forced to retire on 60 with a back injury on the opening day, Clarke fought through obvious discomfort as he and Smith built a seventh-wicket stand of 163 on a rain-interrupted second day.

The 33-year-old completed his 28th Test century, finishing on 128, while Smith piled in with a 231-ball unbeaten 162 and he was full of praise for his captain afterwards.

“He’s (Clarke) done amazing over the last couple of weeks,” Smith told a press conference.

“I think it’s been tough for all of us, but he’s spent the whole time by Hughesy’s family’s side and just the strength and courage he showed throughout those times was unbelievable.

“He must be mentally drained coming into this game, but I think the way he played speaks the words for that guy. He came out here and he tried to do something for Hughesy and he certainly did that.”

Smith paid his own tribute to Hughes after reaching his century by jogging over to the giant 408 – Hughes’ Test cap number – inscribed on the playing surface and raising his bat to the skies.

When asked if he had planned out the touching moment, Smith said: “Yeah, I had a bit of time when we were on that long break when I was on 98 and I thought if I got the two more runs it would be nice to go over there to the 408, stick my bat in the air and say thanks to Hughesy for being with me all the way out there.”

David Warner made similar gestures to Hughes on his way to a 145 on Monday and Smith said that it was fitting that three of Australia’s biggest scorers were close friends with the former South Australia batsman.

“I think we were all good mates with Hughesy us three so I was sort of hoping all three of us would get runs,” he added.

“It’s nice to be in that position we are in now with 517 on the board in the first innings so let’s hope for a good day tomorrow and the rest of the Test match.”

Published: Wednesday 10th December 2014 by The News Editor

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