Australia's intimidation tactics 'humorous' - Amla
In the aftermath of the Brisbane Test, Hashim Amla made light of the Australian attitude of aggression, calling it "quite humorous," and brushed aside any suggestion of being intimidated. Michael Clarke's men brought out their mean side on the final afternoon as they went in search of nine South African wickets in two and half sessions and managed to finish with five.
In the most intense passage of play of an otherwise slow Test, Australia's attack threw everything at the South African top order after Clarke declared 115 runs ahead. In addition to short balls and movement off the seam they also had a lot to say - particularly to Graeme Smith and Amla.
Amla played on against James Pattinson but was not out because the fast bowler had overstepped - the fourth instance of a no-ball wicket in the match. Later in his innings, Peter Siddle thought he had Amla caught behind. A desperate appeal followed with help from David Warner at short midwicket but Amla said he was certain he had not made contact.
"I actually found it quite humorous. Obviously the guys were a bit pumped up thinking I had nicked the ball. I guess it is a bit funny when guys get emotional when there is no real need to," Amla said. "But it's part of the game. I found it quite funny and just enjoyed the moment. It was a nice patch of play for cricket." Amla was out shortly after when he handed Michael Hussey a catch at short cover.
Smith was also dismissed following a period of high drama. Post-lunch, Pattinson launched a verbal tirade on Smith for pulling away when a bird entered his line of sight when Pattinson was in his delivery stride. Smith waved him away and then faced a series of bouncers before edging a fuller ball to gully.
However, the South African captain also gave no credence to Australia's way with words. "There was a lot of noise out there but I couldn't really make out what was being said," Smith said, dismissively. "It was the same as any other game."
Tensions ran high despite the match petering out to a draw. Michael Clarke would have wanted exactly that as he asked his bowlers to try and cause an almighty collapse and he was pleased with the outcome. "I think the aggression and the intent is the way we play our best cricket and I certainly don't want to stop that," he said. "But we understand there's a line and you can go to the line but you can't overstep it."
Australia's oral traditions in the game have long been the source of a South African undoing. To this day Daryll Cullinan refuses to talk about his experiences in facing Shane Warne and the legend of Steve Waugh telling Herschelle Gibbs he had "dropped the World Cup," after he spilt a catch in the 1999 World Cup lives on despite it being fiction.
While the art of sledging is nothing new, the tactics employed in the Brisbane Test may sound suspiciously close to the 'dossier' which made headlines in the lead up. Both coach Mickey Arthur and Clarke denied the existence of the document and said some of the information contained in it was never discussed by the team.
Although they did not go into the specifics, it was thought that one of those would be to sledge Amla. It was a surprising strategy because Amla is known for his calm demeanor and difficult to rough up. It was also seen as fairly defeatist and made it seem as though Australia had no other ideas to stop Amla from scoring.
In the first innings, that may have been true. Despite nervous strokes and a number of edges, Amla notched up another Test ton. As Australia went for the win, though, they bowled far tighter lines, had better control over their length and even a player of Amla's quality struggled.
While Clarke believes that achievement will give Australia momentum and the mental edge going into Adelaide, Smith was not convinced. "I think a draw was a reflection of both teams."
Amla was also not ready to heap praise on Australia's bowling determination and said that while their attack is very good, "in my opinion, the South African attack is the best in the world." He also used it as an opportunity to punt his own part-time offspin as he followed up with a joke on what to expect in the second Test. "I was really disappointed when Graeme took me out of the attack after just two overs but he said he is resting me for the next Test."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent