It was the day that Crowded House could have reformed and conceivably reprised one of their biggest hits with a slight twist – forget four seasons, this was four innings in one day.
It should have been so different. After Clarke’s brilliant 151 (an innings that has now acquired the value of Italy’s national debt after what followed) had steered his side to 284 and Shane Watson had dismantled the hosts for 96, Australia’s advantage should have been impregnable.
But just as against Pakistan at Headingley in 2010 and England in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG five days later, Australia were found wanting in seam and swing friendly conditions.
This was the third time that Australia had been bowled out for less than 100 in 12 Tests. Prior to that they had only failed to make three figures once in 277 Tests stretching back 26 years. This batting is more brittle than the most severe case of osteoporosis.
Let’s make it clear this was nothing to do with the pitch. Sure Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn put the ball in the right place, and yes it nibbled around a bit, but the fault lies squarely with the batsmen.
Watson and Ricky Ponting (whose decline has now reached epic proportions) missed straight deliveries to be leg before, Mike Hussey played a loose shot and as for Brad Haddin, well the wicketkeeper could conceivably be charged with dereliction of duty after a brainless charge down the wicket to Philander when his side were already 18/5.
A clearly stunned Clarke fronted up bravely at the close of play and said that the batting had been “disgraceful” – he couldn’t really have said anything else.
47 all out after being 21/9, a Test thrown away and severe question marks over the future of certain players like Haddin – the pile in John Inverarity’s in-tray has just got a whole heap bigger.
If you like this, follow us on Twitter @thereversesweep