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Michael Clarke pays tribute to batsmen

By AAP .
16 February 2014 02:26PM EST

SPEARHEAD Mitchell Johnson rightly claimed man-of-the-match honours in Australia's 281-run win in the opening Test against South Africa.

But Michael Clarke suggested plaudits should be shared around the team, praising a couple of classy knocks at Centurion.

Centurions Shaun Marsh and Steve Smith shared in a 233-run partnership in the first innings after their side had slumped to 4-98, while David Warner and Alex Doolan put on 205 runs together in the second dig.

They were both record stands at the venue for the fifth-wicket and second-wicket respectively.

Clarke noted Johnson was outstanding but that it could have been a very different Test had Marsh, Smith, Warner and Doolan not made substantial runs.

"Our batters deserve a lot of credit, being able to make the runs they did on quite a tough batting wicket," Clarke said.

"That was quite a nasty wicket, to be honest, and I would've hated to see any team having to bat on it on day five.

"So fortunately, a nice toss to lose."

Opposing captain Graeme Smith admitted his indecision at the toss had been costly.

"I was very undecided on day one and, obviously in hindsight, I definitely would have made a different decision," Smith said.

"But I made a decision that the team felt was best in terms of what we knew of the wicket."

Clarke praised the grit of Marsh and Doolan as fine examples of the side's relentless attitude.

"Marsh walked out and batted in that second innings after scoring 148 in the first dig. He still started his innings (with caution) ... he wanted to make a big score and contribute," he said.

"Alex Doolan in that second innings, I don't think he'll play a tougher innings than that throughout his career.

"You're playing against a fantastic bowling attack, the best attack that I've played against in my career, on a wicket that was going up and down.

"To be able to play like that on debut, he deserves a lot of credit."

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