Clarke draws positives from drawn test
Skipper Michael Clarke said the big positive for Australia in Tuesday's drawn Gabba test was his team's bowling performance against South Africa's heavyweight top order.
The Proteas salvaged a draw under pressure by batting out 68 overs to finish the final day 166 for five with their last recognised batsman at the crease, after trailing the Australians by 115 runs in the first innings.
Psychologically, Clarke's third-ranked team take the edge into next week's second Adelaide test in the pivotal match of the three-match series which could lift the Australians back to the top ranking with a series victory.
"There are a lot of positives to come of this test," Clarke said.
"Unfortunately, we didn't get a win, but we can certainly use the momentum that we take from this game to Adelaide.
"It is a positive the get the South African top order out twice in the test."
Clarke was named the man-of-the-match for his third double-century of the year, his unbeaten 259 which turned the match away from the Proteas over the closing two days after coming with his team wobbling at 40 for three on Sunday's third day.
The Australian skipper is the highest scorer in tests this year with 1 041 runs and averaging 115.66.
"The team showed a lot of character after day one. I wish we had a bit of play on that washed out day (Saturday), but I think the boys deserve a lot of credit for their attitudes," he said.
"Our intent was the way it needs to be when you are playing against such a good team.
"I think the way Ed Cowan and Mike Hussey batted they certainly showed that intent (with centuries).
"Our attitude was spot on today with the ball. We were quite aggressive with our approach. I think we bowled a lot better today and we seemed to get better through this test match."
Clarke, who has won nine of his 17 tests as skipper with four drawn, said he saw his bold declaration at first drinks as the best chance of pulling off victory against the South Africans.
"I thought our best chance of winning was to get a lead and come out this morning and be as positive as we could and then give ourselves enough time in the game to take nine wickets... unfortunately, we didn't have enough time," he said
Clarke said no one crossed the line as tempers frayed in the middle session as Australia's bowlers battled to make inroads into the Proteas' batting.
"I think it was friendly banter. I know Smithy (Graeme Smith) was having a good laugh and Patto (James Pattinson) was doing the same," he said.
"You have two very competitive teams who want to have success and both teams are going to push hard, but both teams understand where the line is and I'm sure nobody overstepped that mark today or throughout the test.
"The game was played in really good spirit. We know we're up tough opposition and I think both teams played the right way."
He said there was no emphasis on targeting Graeme Smith during the series as an important wicket for Australia.
"It's certainly not something I nor the team is focused on. We need to get 20 wickets and he's two," he said.
"It's nice he made no runs in this test match, he's a huge player for them and has been a great player for a long time.
"We have plans for him and we'll try to execute those as well as we can for the second test as well.
"When South Africa has success, he generally plays a big part. So the least amount of runs we can give Graeme during the series I think the better chance we have for success."
Smith made 10 and 23 in the Gabba test and Australia's bowlers were involved in a number of testy exchanges with him during his time at the crease on Tuesday.