at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Australia won’t shy away from adopting the same kind of aggressive tactics that seemed to surprise England for their keenly anticipated series against South Africa that starts in 11 days’ time.
Australia captain Michael Clarke said yesterday that while relations between his side and the South African team were hunky-dory when it comes to what takes place on the field, matters will get feisty. “It’s never been part of our plan, to be honest,” was Clarke’s reply to a question about whether his team would continue with the aggressive approach they utilised in the recently completed Ashes series. It’s just the way the game turns out. It’s always competitive when you’re on the field, no matter who you’re up against. South Africa are always a tough challenge and it will be competitive on the field.”
Clarke was at the forefront of Australia’s growling approach that saw them get into the faces of Alastair Cook’s side Down Under.
The Australian captain was fined 20percent of his match fee in the first Test in Brisbane, when he told James Anderson to “get ready for a broken f***ing arm”, as Mitchell Johnson prepared to bowl in the latter stages of that match.
Throughout that series there were reports – mainly from the English – of an undercurrent of nastiness from the Australians, though it was noted that the players did get together after the Test in Sydney for a post-series beer.
Clarke says that will be very much the same this time around, noting that relations between the two teams is probably a lot better than Australia’s (or South Africa’s for that matter) with England.
“I know Graeme (Smith) quite well, I know quite a few of the players, there is a lot of mutual respect between both teams. I think we will see a fantastic series, you’ll see some hard-fought cricket on the ground, but both teams get on very well off the field, you’ll see us and the South Africans get together after the game for a few quiet beers as well. Everyone understands there’s a line that you don’t cross, so we won’t be crossing that,” Clarke explained.
The build-up to this series has seen the Australians, cock-a-hoop after their success in the Ashes, have plenty to say for themselves; including Dave Warner claiming the South Africans “were on the back foot”, Peter Siddle and James Pattinson outline how Smith would be “targeted” and, of course, that theirs is the best bowling attack in the world.
Clarke reiterated that last point again yesterday. “Maybe I’m a little bit biased but I think this Australian attack is the best attack in the world. Statistically, the South African attack is unbelievable, and they love their own conditions, and have had a lot of success, so we know as a batting unit they will be extremely tough to face.”
Australia’s preparations were hit yesterday by the bad weather, which wreaked havoc not just in Gauteng but in parts of North West too.
The forecast for the next few days doesn’t look good either and Clarke and the Australian coaching staff are hoping that the weather will clear by the time they play a four-day warm-up game at Senwes Park from Wednesday.
The match won’t carry first class status, so the tourists will be using all their squad members, as they seek some answers about their starting XI ahead of the first Test at Centurion on the 12th of this month.
The main question surrounds a replacement at No 6 for George Bailey, who was dropped after the Ashes. Clarke outlined a number of options yesterday that included Alex Doolan, who is yet to be capped, and he also hinted at a move down the order for Shane Watson, whose displays at No 3 during the Ashes were inconsistent.
Meanwhile, the South African squad will gather in Johannesburg from Monday to start their preparations for the series, which will include a three-day match against an Invitation XI, to be made up of players from the three sides who don’t make the play-offs in the RamSlam T20 and extended squad members. - The Star