Michael Clarke propelled his extraordinary year to new heights on Thursday, his second double century in consecutive innings against South Africa charged by his desire to "cash in" during the good times, the Australia captain told reporters.
Clarke's unbeaten 224, which drove Australia to a mammoth first-day total of 482 for five in the second test, followed his 259 not out in the drawn first test in Brisbane and made him the first player to grab four double-tons in a calendar year.
"Look, it's really nice to be making runs and I guess the downside to this great game is when you're not, you find it really hard to find your next run," the 31-year-old told reporters. "And that's happened a lot for me, I guess, through my career and I got dropped. And I remember when I came back from getting dropped that I said I wanted to make the most of the good days.
"And that's all I really feel I'm doing. I feel like when I'm getting in, I'm trying to cash in because I know there will be some tough days around the corner again." Kicking off the year with a sublime unbeaten 329 against India in Sydney, Clarke blasted 210 against the same opponents in Adelaide and has gone on to plunder 1,265 runs for the year for an average of 140.65, raising comparisons in Australia with the great Don Bradman.
Despite his imperious form, Clarke's 224, punctured with 39 fours and a six, was not without a few false shots as he nicked a few just wide of fielders and survived a confident caught behind appeal when on 73.
"When you look at the innings I've made big scores, it's the counter-attack, it's the being positive, its playing my natural game and there's risk there," Clarke said. "I remember playing England through the Australian summer a couple of years ago and I couldn't make a run."
Ever the team man, Clarke praised fellow century makers David Warner (119) and Mike Hussey (103) for providing him with good support and said he was more focused on winning the test than his own heroics. "When you grab momentum you've got to hang on to it for as long as possible. And that's the hardest challenge in test cricket," Clarke said. "It's a really positive day for the batting group but we've got a lot of work to do over the next four days to have a crack at winning this test match, that's for sure."