(File photo) Aussie captain Michael Clarke and his Proteas counterpart Graeme Smith pose with the trophy at SuperSport Park in Centurion ahead of the first Test. Picture: Alexander Joe

The captains speak: South Africa’s cricket captain Graeme Smith and Australia’s Michael Clarke share pre-match thoughts ahead of the Second Test at Port Elizabeth.



Graeme Smith on …

His own battles with Mitchell Johnson: I’ve faced Mitchell a lot of times – times where he’s had the better of me and times I’ve had the better of him.

One dismissal doesn’t make you lose credibility. There are a lot of guys who’ve been able to perform against the fastest bowlers in the world over a long time. I’ve made a career out of looking ugly. If I can keep doing that I’ll be happy.

The hype: It’s important not to get caught up in the hype.

Obviously Mitchell bowled extremely well and bowled aggressively. We all know that creates headlines, stories and fanfare. There’s huge respect in our team for someone who is performing well, but it’s important for us to focus on getting our skills right.

Starting slowly: Maybe we don’t like throwing the first punch … it is important to have the ability to respond and know how to respond – and experience plays a role.

The guys have a lot of reference points in terms of performances to fall back on, and I think it will be about not carrying too much baggage from Pretoria.

“Giving orders” to the St George’s Park curator: One thing I’ve learned is that when you ask for things, you generally don’t get them, so we tend to stay away. We’re just happy with a good Test wicket.

Ultimately he knows this wicket better than all of us. Obviously we’d like a wicket that can produce a result, a wicket that will provide good cricket over the next five days.

Opening partner Alviro Petersen’s form: Alviro had a decent Indian tour on tough wickets. He has been around for a period of time and he knows his game. I expect him to bounce back.


Michael Clarke on …

Australia not playing a Test at St George’s Park since 1997: I have never been very big on statistics. I only care about winning. That is the only statistic I care about.

The fact that Australia hasn’t played a Test match here in a long time is very exciting. The last Australian team that played here was a very successful one and they won. It is a fantastic place to come and play cricket, and we are hoping for another great performance.

The Proteas on a possible decline: I have massive respect for South African cricket – their team have been at their best throughout my playing career.

They have proved that they are the number-one Test team in the world via their consistent performances over a long period of time. One loss should not be an indication of a generation change. We need to be at our best.

His team taking over the No 1 spot: We are improving as a team, but we are still far from where we want to be.

It is hard to win away from home and we haven’t been the best of travellers, which is why we are so focused on this series. We need to turn that around and start to have some success on the road. We are still a long way off from being number one.

Australia’s batting unit: The batters did an amazing job in the first Test, especially against an attack that bowled very well in the first innings. They bowled very well, and I am expecting the same from them come Thursday. - Cape Times