Clarke has come in for criticism of late, but his standing as Australia's most important player was only enhanced by a solid comeback knock for NSW on Wednesday.
Clarke was grinding his way towards a chanceless ton against Tasmania at Blacktown International Sportspark, before he eventually nicked one behind off impressive second-game rookie Sam Rainbird (5-60) to depart for 88.
Nonetheless, it was a timely statement three weeks out from the Ashes that off-field dramas haven't hampered his focus.
NSW were 8-280 off 96 overs at stumps on day one of the Sheffield Shield opener, after the defending Shield champions Tasmania dug in well with the ball on a deck that offered little for the bowlers.
Ryan Carters (33) and Nathan Lyon (4) are the not out batsmen for the Blues.
Earlier, Clarke put on substantial partnerships with Scott Henry (48) and Steve Smith (42) before NSW lost 3-10 and 5-49 to bring the Tigers back into the contest.
It was a disappointing fade from a NSW side with big expectations for this season, but batting conditions are likely to get worse as the match goes on.
Clarke's timing wasn't pristine, but it was a workmanlike innings. He brought his 50 up off 103 balls and eventually faced 190 deliveries during his four hours at the crease.
The skipper's valuable time in the middle is a significant boost for Australia ahead of the first Test at Brisbane, with a firing Clarke imperative to hopes of stealing the urn back from England.
After spending six weeks sidelined with a back injury, Clarke was watchful against Tasmania, pocketing eight boundaries.
However, he was visibly upset at a disappointing finish, when he attempted to late cut Rainbird but flicked one through to keeper Tim Paine.
The Australian skipper has been in the news of late after the release of Ricky Ponting's autobiography, which features a passage critical of Clarke's attitude when vice-captain.
Tension has simmered over the past couple of days, but Ponting revealed on Wednesday that he'd made contact with Clarke and as far as he was concerned, there were no dramas between the pair.
Clarke appeared untroubled by the chronic back problem which earlier this year kept him out of the Champions Trophy tournament and most recently sidelined him from Australia's limited overs tour of India.
Given the injury problems plaguing Australia's fast bowling stocks, there's hope Ben Hilfenhaus could return to Test cricket this summer.
Hilfenhaus (1-44) started brilliantly by dismissing danger man David Warner (21) caught and bowled, but he slowed down after taking a heavy fall running into bowl.
Another integral member of Australia's batting order, Smith, played well in a rapid-fire innings, before a loose pull shot brought him undone.
At the MCG, Victoria's ex-captain Cameron White scored an impressive 83 before his side crumbled to be all out for 312 against Western Australia.
Left-arm paceman Jason Behrendorff took 4-62, dismissing openers Rob Quiney and Chris Rogers, then snaring the last two wickets.
WA were 0-18 in reply at stumps.
The Bushrangers were in control at 4-258 midway through Wednesday's final session, with White, who had played a chanceless and elegant innings, seemingly headed for a century.
But when tall WA paceman Michael Hogan extracted some movement from the pitch to have White caught behind, it sparked a slump of 6-54 to end the innings.
Within the next six overs, John Hastings (five) and David Hussey (44 from 48 balls) both fell to soft dismissals, hitting medium-pacer Hilton Cartwright straight to fieldsmen.
Peter Siddle followed next over, giving left-arm spinner Ashton Agar his second wicket when he advanced and popped a catch to bat-pad, before Behrendorff cleaned up the innings.
Agar (2-93) had earlier taken punishment from White and Hussey, who belted him for two sixes.
WA acting captain Shaun Marsh had sent Victoria in to bat and was rewarded early, with Quiney falling for a duck.
But Test opener Rogers, who never looked comfortable scoring 36, and young No.3 Peter Handscomb, who batted stylishly for 69, put on a 107-run second-wicket stand to take the ascendancy.
They both fell in consecutive overs soon after lunch.
White then dominated an 84-run stand with his captaincy successor Matthew Wade (33), who survived several close shaves early in his innings.
And in the other match to begin on Wednesday, South Australian strokemaker Cooper cracked an unbeaten 165 against Queensland in Adelaide.
The Redbacks were 4-294 at stumps on Wednesday's opening day, with captain Johan Botha not out 59.
The pair rescued SA with an unbroken 193-run partnership against a Bulls side weakened by injury and illness.
Queensland summoned Papua New Guineans as substitute fielders after captain James Hopes, wicketkeeper Chris Hartley and paceman Ben Cutting were all nobbled.
Hopes was a late withdrawal with a stomach illness and was replaced as captain by Hartley - but he was forced from the field in the middle session with similar stomach complaints.
And Cutting bowled just four overs before injuring a finger, not returning after leaving the field just after lunch.
Having sent only 12 players to Adelaide, the Bulls called on emergency fielders from Papua New Guinea's team, known as the Barramundis, who are in the SA capital for a training camp.
Cooper made the most of Queensland's misfortunes, scoring more runs on Wednesday than he did in a dismal last season when he was dumped from SA's Shield team.
The elegant right-hander smacked 18 fours and six sixes and combined with Botha to steer the Redbacks from a precarious 4-101.
Opener Michael Klinger was out for three, emerging batsmen Travis Head (33) and Sam Raphael (25) fell when well-set, and debutant Kelvin Smith made just one in a match played at beachside suburban Glenelg Oval, due to ongoing redevelopments of Adelaide Oval.
Bulls paceman Luke Feldman took two wickets while Test spearhead Ryan Harris was impressive, taking 1-27 from 15 overs in his first long-form game since tearing a hamstring on Ashes duties two months ago.