Smith is confident that the dossier will not have any effect on him or his team-mates
Days after News Ltd newspapers published Australia’s game plan dossier, in which it revealed how the national team were going to target each individual South African player, Proteas captain Graeme Smith admitted that the exposure of his opponents plans has done nothing but “touch the motivation springs a little more”.
Smith also noted that the documents had caused more amusement that anger amongst his team-mates.
“There was nothing really new in that, I haven’t read it myself, I heard a few lines and it is nothing that we didn’t expect. All of us have played enough against Australia and we know what it’s going to take to be victorious here. Our preparation has been really good and intelligent. Certainly the stuff that happens in the papers and maybe things Mickey [Arthur, Australia’s coach] has said have only added motivation for us,” Smith said.
However, Australia captain Michael Clarke stated that there were no such documents in existence and blamed it solely on the media attempting to disturb the hornets’ nest.
“We as a team don’t have an official dossier as such. We look at footage, we talk about opposition players, we study opposition strengths and weaknesses as a bowling group and a batting group, that’s generally what we do as a team, there was some stuff in there that is quite common knowledge about the South African team and there was some other stuff in there that we certainly haven’t spoken about,” Clarke said.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland reiterated Clarke’s views, and said: “I looked at it and there are things in there that I thought, ‘well, everyone knows that,’ and there were things that I thought, ‘well, I would do the complete opposite to that, there are some fun and games in all of that and listening to Graeme, he seems pretty unfussed by all that.”
Australia coach Mickey Arthur also tweeted about his thoughts upon hearing about the ‘so-called’ dossier.
“Just to make one thing clear-there is no secret dossier and there never was! #mediahype,” Arthur said.
Despite this dossier being leaked, Clarke believes it will not have any major effect on the rest of the series.
“Both teams would have read the papers – that’s for sure, the most important thing for me, and I’ve said it for a long time now, it’s not about what you say, it’s about what you do. That’s the Australian team’s attitude at the moment. It’s about making sure tomorrow we turn up. Enough’s been said, there’s been plenty of talk in the media and it’s been built up beautifully, with two very strong cricket teams. Now it’s about what we do,” Clarke said.
Smith agreed with Clarke’s view on the dossier and noted that South Africa were concentrating on winning the last two Test matches in the series after the first ended as a draw.
“It doesn’t really make a difference [whether that is their strategy or not], we have prepared for what we going to expect over the next few days. Tactically, we are doing our work anyway. The most important thing for us was maximising our preparation,” Smith said.
However, Clarke hinted that Australia were going to employ the use of more bouncers throughout the last two Test matches of the series.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if you see plenty of short stuff, that’s for sure, the young quicks know what they have to do. I’ve made it very clear that they need to keep the same aggression they had against India last summer. We understand there’s a line that you can’t cross, but we’ll be pushing that line,” Clarke said.
According to the dossier, veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis and batsman Hashim Amla are set to be the main targets for short-pitched deliveries.
“When you’ve got fast bowlers on either side, it’s always going to be a topic of discussion, especially at venues like the Wanderers or the Gabba,” Smith said.
The dossier also hinted that Australia were going to attempt using verbal and psychological tactics against Amla, but, according to former South African spinner Johan Botha, Amla is one of the toughest batsmen to ruffle.
“He (Amla) is pretty relaxed and I don’t think it will affect him at all, he has played against Australia now a few times – he has played against all the other top teams in the world. And he is the type of guy who it doesn’t affect him if you say something or if you don’t. He just goes out there and watches the ball and grinds out big scores. They (Australia) can do what they want (but) you have got to put the ball in the right area and put him under pressure. Hashim will just go about his game as he has always done,” Botha said.
In the past, South Africa have lost their grip on matches after being exposed to mind games, but Smith is confident that this will not be a problem throughout the rest of the series.
“Our Test side has proven that, especially away from home. You play in other people’s backyards, in front of their crowds and you have different sorts of pressure. You have to be able to stand up at key times, when good teams play each other there are small margins and you need to be able to handle those small margins better. Our goal is to match up again. I don’t expect to see us too emotional about things. If we can be focused and clinical, I will be happy,” Smith added.
Before the start of the Test series, Arthur noted that the left-handed batsmen in the team would have a field day against South African pace bowler Dale Steyn since his bowling against left-handers is nowhere near as good as right-handers.
Responding to the comment made by Arthur, South Africa coach Gary Kirsten said: “Let’s just say it will provide us with good motivation.”
Veteran Australia batsman Ricky Ponting joined in with Arthur’s targeting of Steyn by saying that the Australians will look to “negate Steyn because then we will go a long way to winning”.
But, instead of replying to Arthur and Ponting’s views on Steyn, Smith merely stated what he expected from his world class pace bowler.
“I’m looking forward to Dale taking 10 wickets and looking forward to Vernon taking 10 wickets, you can bowl the speed of light but how effective can you be. Dale has proven that he can do both and hopefully he can show that in this Test match,” Smith said.
Smith also stated that South Africa would continue to follow the game plan and tactics they had discussed as a team.
“We try to keep it in the guys’ heads as much as possible so dossiers aren’t left lying around,” Smith said with a wry smile on his face.