Michael Clarke admits he needed a hefty dose of medical treatment to reach his 27th Test century before rain brought a premature end to day two of the series-ending Test against South Africa.
Just under 40 overs were bowled on day two due to unrelenting rain in Cape Town that arrived mid-way through the second session. Australia finished 7-494, with Clarke unbeaten on 161 and Ryan Harris on four. It was the 10th time the captain had reached 150 in his 105-Test career.
Clarke said much of his time between stumps on day one in Cape Town and the start of day two consisted of "plenty of treatment, plenty of ice" as he attempted to recover from a sustained bouncer barrage from Morne Morkel at Newlands he rated as the most intense single spell he had faced during his career.
"I'm fortunate to have Alex (Kountouris) the physio and the 'Doc' (Peter Brukner) help me out. It was a long night - a longer morning, to be honest - but I'm in great hands. Without their help, no way would I have got on the park today," Clarke explained.
A potentially smooth path to a century was blocked by impressive South Africa second-gamer Kyle Abbott, who produced 23 of the 25 deliveries Clarke faced when he was unable to get off 99, a stint he later insisted had not perturbed him.
"Our goal today was to try and bat exactly like we did yesterday up until lunch and then assess where the game was at, so it wasn't about my runs personally. It was making sure I was seeing that new ball off and doing the job for the team. Fortunately I was able to get that period," Clarke said.
Abbott said he found that period, in which Clarke repeatedly left deliveries that passed perilously close to his stumps, "a great period of Test cricket . . . thoroughly enjoyable".
"A few moments in that where he just smiled and nodded. It was good competition and just a great period of cricket there."
The lively seamer said he had marvelled at the intensity of Clarke's tussle with Morkel on the preceding day.
"Morne was really cranking it up there. I was at fine-leg and I thought at any moment a little top-edge was going to come my way," he said.
"It was awesome to see, the way Morne went about it. And all respect to Clarke, the way he played it. It was a great advert for Test cricket."
Clarke came into the match having not reached 25 in his preceding 11 innings. He said that lean stint made his milestone at Newlands "overdue".
"Any time you make a hundred for Australia it's good. I've never had a bad one. There were some tough stages there yesterday. I thought Morne Morkel bowled a couple of pretty quick spells when he went around the wicket and tried to attack the emblem on my helmet. The bounce was a little inconsistent so it wasn't easy to consistently duck or hook and pull . . . so it was nice to get through," he said.
"Most importantly we have had one and a half days of Test cricket and we have 494 runs on the board, so I am extremely pleased with the position we are in."
Clarke said he would not make a decision on whether to immediately declare or bat on beyond 500 until he could judge conditions at Newlands on Monday morning.
"The advantage now is we start at 10am every day, so we'll still get some overs back. The forecast is pretty good for the next three days. I'll wait and see tomorrow," he said.
"We are going to have to bowl well. It is certainly a very good batting wicket. We are going to have execute, hold on to our chances and make sure we do everything right to get 20 wickets on that pitch."
Abbott said the Proteas' chief paceman Dale Steyn was "making some good recovery" from the hamstring injury he suffered on day one, and that the team was hopeful of his availability for the second innings.
He insisted the home team had not given up hope of winning the match, despite being 494 runs behind with three days remaining.
"A draw could be more on the cards now, but I suppose that we're only going to see what happens ... after both teams have batted," he said.
"We're still going to stay positive. There's a series up for grabs and I still think there's plenty of time left in the game to get a result still.
"We need to push the game forward, keep positive ... as soon as we start thinking of a draw or any negative thoughts like that come in, that's when you come unstuck."
Abbott said he did not expect the pitch to significantly deteriorate over the last three days, arguing day three would be among the "best batting days" on it.
The story Battered Michael Clarke patched together by doctors first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.