The decade’s 10 best innings by an Aussie
It's fitting Australia's three best batsmen of the decade produced that period's greatest batting feat.
In the face of shattering tragedy the three men summoned the strength of fallen mate Phil Hughes to put India to the sword at Adelaide in 2014.
That trio shares six of the 10 best innings in Russell Gould's list of the decade.
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1. Michael Clarke (128), David Warner (145) and Steve Smith (162 not out)
v India, Adelaide, December 2014
Difficult batting circumstances are not rare in cricket, but this was something altogether different. It was a match played in the immediate aftermath of the death, and funeral, of Phil Hughes, a teammate so universally loved the outpouring of grief was worldwide. Clarke, the Australia captain, gave the eulogy and Hughes' funeral in the lead up to a match which was delayed, and those within the team thought just might not happen, such was the emotional toll Hughes' passing took. Warner was a pallbearer, Smith a long-time NSW and Australian teammate. The recall from all involved was how close to not playing the three batsmen were. But instead, amid a pall hanging over a game unlike any others, they contributed three of the most memorable innings this century, yet alone this decade.
2. Steve Smith
144 v England, Edgbaston, August 2019
On the face of it this effort could be just another Steve Smith hundred among his 26 at Test level which also includes three doubles. But this was not just any old innings. This was his re-entry to Test cricket after a 12-month ban for his role in a ball-tampering scandal which left him open to be savaged by English crowds baying for Australian blood. In the lead-up, Smith conceded he felt out of sorts too, and it wasn't until a net session two days out that he was "ready". He was, but his teammates weren't. Australia was 8-122, Smith the only man showing resistance, when Peter Siddle joined him. But with one stoic partner, Smith went to town. He flayed a bowling attack which thought it was on top, showing no sign of ever getting out. Only late slogging as he ran out of partners brought an end to an innings which he would later say was his favourite hundred.
3. Aaron Finch
156 off 63 balls v England, Southampton, August 2013
Australia was still coming to grips with the T20 format at international level but Finch, in just his sixth appearance, showed his more experienced teammates how things were done. Left to pick up the pieces when opening partner David Warner was out for just one, Finch put on a display of brute force and dominated the match to such an extent the highlights went viral. Finch smashed 11 fours and 14 sixes as his team piled on a mammoth 248, an innings which was a precursor to his international world record innings five years later.
4. Glenn Maxwell
Only three Australians have managed a century in Test, one-day international and T20 cricket, and Glenn Maxwell is one of them. Of his three T20 hundreds, this one ranks as easily the best, as the team's Mr Fix-it was sent in to open the batting and duly went berserk. The first six of the match was a reverse-sweep from Maxwell who hit the next ball for four using the same shot. In a display of power-hitting that had to be seen to be truly enjoyed, Maxwell smashed 14 fours and nine sixes and carried his bat for the full 20 overs as Australia set a world record score of 3-263.
5. Usman Khawaja
141 v Pakistan, UAE 2018
In the context of Australian hundreds over the past 10 years, it rates highly because of who played it, and when he played it. Khawaja has long suffered for not delivering when needed, but opening the batting in a highly inexperienced team in the first Test series since the sandpaper scandal in South Africa, with a new captain and a host of new players, Khawaja was heroically stoic. Staring down the barrel of defeat, and having to bat out the best part of five sessions to draw the game, Khawaja was at the crease for 302 balls and 522 minutes in the desert heat. Khawaja lasted an 125 overs, after the Aussies slipped to 3-87 when both Shaun and Mitch Marsh were out for ducks, as Australia held on for a morale-boosting draw, and once which earned the rebuilding team much needed respect.
6. Ricky Ponting
221 v India, Adelaide, 2012
Ricky Ponting made six double-hundreds among his Australian record 41 Test tons, and the 221 the plundered in the twilight of his remarkable career was the last. In what proved to be his final year of Test cricket, in his sixth-last Test, the former Australian captain gave everyone one final reminder of the batting brilliance he displayed throughout his record 168 matches under his baggy green cap. Laced with all the classical shots Ponting made look so effortless, the then 37-year-old batted for a marvellous 404 minutes, faced an incredible 516 balls and hit 21 fours in what was to be his last triple treat.
7. Michael Clarke
161 not out v South Africa, Cape Town, March 2014
Facing questions about his own form, having gone 11 Test innings without a 50, Clarke was forced to summon all the inner-belief and self-confidence which had driven him through his career to play an innings he wouldn't forget. With the No.1 Test ranking up for grabs and the series level at 1-1, Clarke endured a sustained spell of brutal fast bowling from Morne Morkel, in which he was struck repeatedly around the ribs, arms, shoulders and back. Scans later revealed a fractured shoulder and a heavily bruised forearm, but Clarke kept at it in a 430-minute epic which powered Australia to a match and series win. It proved to be the second last century of his Test career.
8. Michael Clarke
329 not out v India, SCG 2012
The biggest score by any Australian batsman since 2010, until David Warner's Adelaide epic, has to make the list and the triple-century stunner from Clarke who batted for two days, came after his team had slipped to 2-8, and then 3-37. Clarke batted for 610 minutes, more than six hours, at his home ground rendering elite bowlers like Indian spinner Ravi Ashwin powerless in his 468-ball stay at the crease which remains the fourth-highest Test score by an Australian, and one of only two triple-centuries by an Aussie this century.
9. David Warner
180 v India, Perth 2012
It's not the hundred Warner ranks as his best, but as a spectacle this 159-ball stunner, which included 110 runs in boundaries and a century in under a session, epitomised what the opener was to serve up. Playing in just his fifth Test, and with a century already in his bag, Warner and Ed Cowan were sent in just after tea on day one at the WACA and the Aussie got to work. Warner flew to 50 from 36 balls and just kept going smashing the fifth-fastest Test hundred of all time, from just 69 balls. And all before stumps. He carried on the next day and got to 180, his highest Test score until he scored 253 at the same ground in 2015.
10. David Warner
335 not out, v Pakistan, Adelaide, November 2019
The biggest innings on the list was the last to be made and Warner's epic knock could have been even bigger if not for a declaration made in the name of a team win. It was a score more impressive given that it came on the back of the most horrible Ashes imaginable for the indefatigable opener who thrives on confidence and bullying attacks with his brash batting. Returning to Australia, where his record is so far superior to his one on the road, he flayed the inexperienced Pakistan bowlers first at Brisbane before setting about breaking all sorts of records at the Adelaide Oval. Some will put an asterisk against it given the buffet-style bowling. But Test triple-centuries are rare because they are so hard to make, and Warner now sits among an elite group to achieve the feat.