South Africa in Australia 2012-13 November 7, 2012

Leaked dossier reveals Australia's tactics

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Australia will target Hashim Amla with verbal aggression and engage him in a "psychological war", according to a dossier of team game-plans published in News Ltd newspapers in Australia. The papers claimed that the leaked document contained Australia's "secret" plans to combat each of South Africa's players, and including peppering Jacques Kallis with bouncers and going after the legspinner Imran Tahir.

However, it is the plan to use verbal tactics against Amla in an effort to break his concentration that will create the biggest stir. The document also mentions Australia's intent to send down plenty of short balls to Amla, who is the No.2 batsman in the world on the ICC Test rankings, and was one of South Africa's strongest performers in the two-match series against Australia last year. He led the run tally with 239 at 59.75 and made two of only four centuries in the series.

Earlier on Wednesday, before the plans were published, Ricky Ponting was asked in Brisbane about whether sledging should be expected in the series, which begins at the Gabba on Friday. Ponting said Australia had no preconceived plans to sledge, but he conceded that in the heat of the battle for the No.1 Test ranking, things might get verbal at some point.

"Whenever South Africa and Australia play the rivalry and the way we go about our cricket is very similar," Ponting said. "I expect it to be good, hard tough Test match cricket. Whether that means there's words spoken or not, I don't know. That's stuff that happens in the heat of the battle. We've got no preconceived ideas about going out there and sledging or talking. We'll hopefully do the talking with bat and ball."

This will be the first series between the sides in which Australia will have the advantage of having as their mentor Mickey Arthur, the former South Africa coach who has worked with most of Graeme Smith's squad in the past. Ponting said Arthur had been useful in devising plans against the South Africans, including how a powerful attack led by Dale Steyn would attack Australia's batsman, and how best to rattle South Africa's top order.

"We've done our homework on all of their players," Ponting said. "We've got very specific plans with the way we're going to bowl to a lot of their batsmen. As a batting group we've spoken long and hard about the way their bowlers will bowl to us as well. It's nice to know that stuff and a bit of inside information from the coach on how their bowlers will probably try to bowl to us as well is good.

"We've got some areas for their batsmen that we're going to target. Our young quicks are dying to get out there and have a crack at some of their top-order players. You can expect some fireworks. Some of their top order can expect a lot of short balls as well, that's an area that we think we can really attack them. All in all our preparation so far has been good."

The dossier printed in Thursday's newspapers also suggests the Australians will aim to trap Graeme Smith on the crease and dismiss him lbw, and test Vernon Philander's endurance and his ability to come back for third and fourth spells. As well as attacking what it calls an "impatient" Tahir, the file encourages batsmen to go hard at Morne Morkel.

The publication of the plans was reminiscent of an incident in 2000 when a dossier compiled by then-coach John Buchanan was leaked on a tour of New Zealand.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andross on November 9, 2012, 7:44 GMT

    @Rajan Nagarajan I think the key in what you said is that other teams can sledge just as well as Australia. So it really makes no difference if teams do it or not. Personally I don't think that 'talk' is a bad thing as long as it stays 'in fun' and doesn't become purely insulting. As for the dossier, lets face it it's going to make no difference, just because you know you're gunna have bouncers bowled you doesn't mean you can play them any better. Besides, most of the time, you're better off (Gasp, shock horror) bowling at the top of off. :D

  • Sanawana on November 8, 2012, 16:04 GMT

    Two important series kicking in with two desperate sides who would do anything to win a match because they feel they are going down a spiral; Aussies using media tactics and India not providing fair chance for England to prepare.

  • cricket0007 on November 8, 2012, 13:51 GMT

    media tactics... whenever any team visits australia they are put under pressure by such things... they try to gain psychological advantage in every possible way and i bet proteas knew such things will happen and are fully prepared for it .. though its a shame that the aussie side isn't the strongest side any more with a lot of young players coming in, so the impact of such media tactics would also be reduced to some extent.. any way it would be a cracker of a series and i hope they choose the best umpires for these games to keep the games free of bad decisions

  • Strewth on November 8, 2012, 9:12 GMT

    rumor going around that an aussie batsman has sent private texts to sa players with secret inside information on how to get clarke out

    seems the secret is that you have to bowl good line and length aiming for the top of off stump

    aggghhhhh what have i done? now everyone knows

    sob sob sob

  • Andross on November 8, 2012, 6:25 GMT

    @Rajan Nagarajan I think the key in what you said is that other teams can sledge just as well as Australia. So it really makes no difference if teams do it or not. Personally I don't think that 'talk' is a bad thing as long as it stays 'in fun' and doesn't become purely insulting. As for the dossier, lets face it it's going to make no difference, just because you know you're gunna have bouncers bowled you doesn't mean you can play them any better. Besides, most of the time, you're better off (Gasp, shock horror) bowling at the top of off. :D

  • sharidas on November 8, 2012, 5:26 GMT

    As usual, the hype flies ahaed of a series. Every team comes with plans on how to bowl at the opposition batsmen's weaknesses and every batsman prepares to face the bowler by studying the tactics, which are now abundantly available on videos.Cricket being a game of mistakes there will be mistakes from all departments. As Ponting said, the game will be played hard and there could be a lot of things happening on the field. Whoever can handle the pressure will come up trumps.

  • dummy4fb on November 8, 2012, 5:22 GMT

    isn't this a tactical move? to already let those players know that the aussies will be after them? first strike?

  • satish619chandar on November 8, 2012, 5:03 GMT

    Sledging is a double edged sword. Without backup of play on the field will be just a joke. Ask Mitch and Siddle knows it even further. A bowler who beats batsman and sends out expletives if goes for two boundaries in the next few balls will lose the battle. And it will push the batsman into a comfort zone. Better to stay cool and concentrate only on the things you need to do to win and stop these nonsense stuffs.

  • anver777 on November 8, 2012, 4:19 GMT

    Now Amla is an experience enough & a senior member for SA, so I'm sure he will tackle these situations (sledging) with his heavy scoring bat in the series !!!!! Aus is all out & using every tactics to win this battle...... but don't underestimate Proteas, they too can come hard at you with their masterful tactics !!!!

  • Meety on November 8, 2012, 4:12 GMT

    @thenoostar on (November 08 2012, 02:38 AM GMT) yep, it's almost as funny as the real "leaked" dossier!

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