Australia in South Africa 2013-14

Smith not bothered about pre-series jibes

Firdose Moonda

February 3, 2014

Comments: 111 | Text size: A | A

Graeme Smith gives his pre-series press conference, Cape Town, January 1, 2013
'When you play against Australia enough, you learn to sift through a lot of the... what's the word... the bull dot dot dot' - Smith © Gallo Images
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Smith on South Africa without Jacques Kallis

  • For the first time in 18 years, South Africa enter a series without Jacques Kallis to fill the allrounders' role. One of Ryan McLaren or Wayne Parnell will likely take over, batting at No.7 and playing as a fourth seamer. Smith gave no hints as to which way the management was leaning but stressed South Africa have to move on from Kallis swiftly and clinically.
  • "I wouldn't want to put pressure on any one's person's shoulders. I hope the players who get this opportunity really see it as that," he said. "You can't hide from the fact that we are going to miss someone of Jacques' calibre. But there is enough quality and enough talent. I would hate to see Jacques as a burden. The key is to appreciate what he has done. From a playing perspective, we will miss his quality but we must be proud of what he has given us. We've got to be smart, we've got to be clever and we have to make those decisions that will see us continue to do well."

The pre-series hype between South Africa and Australia was suitably simmering when Michael Clarke called Australia's bowling attack the "best in the world," when Pat Cummins recalled South Africa's batsmen being "scared," of Mitchell Johnson in the last series here in 2011-12 and when Peter Siddle earmarked Graeme Smith as the man his team "want to put pressure on."

But all the smoke was coming out of just one pot. The Australian one.

Smith changed that today, as South Africa got together for the first day of their preparation and he stoked the flames, albeit in a subtle manner. "When you play against Australia enough, you learn to sift through a lot of the... what's the word... the bull dot dot dot," Smith said, at the Wanderers with a wry smile.

"We just want to focus on ourselves and get ourselves ready. We don't feel the need to get involved in other things. We know this series will be decided on the quality of the cricket that will be played."

After months of administrative wrangling, dating back to the circumstances which led to a curtailed India visit, those words will taste like water on a scorching day to parched fans. Cricket, and maybe only cricket, can finally take centre stage.

Although this contest will take place against the backdrop of the ICC's proposed restructure, where Australia could assume an even greater position as haves and South Africa a lesser one as have-nots, it still has the makings of a classic clash. The hosts are the top-ranked Test team and have been for 18 months. They have not lost a series in four summers, dating back to 2008-09.

Then Australia were their conquerors. The same Australia they have not beaten in a series at home since readmission. The same Australia who appeared ripe for the picking a few months ago but have since recorded an Ashes triumph. The same Australia whose sternest challenge, it is widely thought, lies in how their batsmen can front up to the South African pack.

Australia's fighting talk has come either by or about their bowlers. One journalist asked Smith if he thought that was an indication Australia knew their batting was going to come under scrutiny. Smith shouldered arms, calling it a "good question," before offering a cryptic answer. "We are really motivated to expose certain things," he said.

Those things could well be weaknesses in the Australian line-up, who Smith thinks, like many others, will face "unique challenges" in South African conditions. "I've opened the batting in South Africa for long enough to know that it's going to be testing," he said. "The moving ball is something we have become accustomed to. Our bowling attack knows how to exploit conditions here."

Although Australian surfaces also have pace and bounce, Smith called them "a lot truer to bat on," because of the lack of sideways movement. "You can hit through the line with more confidence than you can in South Africa," he said. "Here's it is guys who have the ability to play the ugly knock that can change games."

Someone like Brad Haddin then, who saved Australia several times recently may find himself right at home. But so could someone like Michael Clarke, whose century in what was a solitary effort in Cape Town in November 2011, was an example of what he can do in tough situations.

Smith didn't say it but as much as the Australian attack will be gunning for him, his own bowlers will go after Clarke. The theory of felling the leader works both ways, after all, and the pressure on both of them will be at its peak.

"A large part of captaincy is not just about making a decision on the field. I have a lot of respect for Michael," Smith said. "It (the pressure) never goes away. I have been in the job for 11 years and every tour I know I have got to front up. When they are big series, it's heightened."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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Posted by   on (February 8, 2014, 19:50 GMT)

Why do the Aussies always seem to have a chip on their shoulder? They obviously have an inferiority complex as they always need to be coming out with phrases such as "We are going to target this batsman or this batsman." I would have thought that you concentrate on taking 20 wickets to win a test much and whether you get the opener or no.11 out, each wicket is as important. Yes obviously getting a true batsman out is tougher and yields a better chance of winning a test match but there is too much talk and we all know what talk is......!

Posted by crickeymate on (February 7, 2014, 10:48 GMT)

To duidelik, Let me make it duidelijk to you about Pat Cummings. He is only 20 now and you will meet him again. He wasn't even near his best when he made mince meat of your team. That is this great team of yours that don't say much. They certainly didn't say much in that game. And we certainly don't need your respect because you will have an excuse waiting I'm sure. Anyway in all that, may the best team still win.

Posted by StaalBurgher on (February 6, 2014, 15:52 GMT)

On what do people base the statement "SA are on the way down". I mean I know Kallis has retired but we have a number of great young talents like de Kock who will be a fixture in the team by the end of 2014. Not to mention wonderful bowling option to replace Steyn in 3-4 years time. Seems to be a lot of wishful thinking about our impending demise. Desperate wishful thinking. Does it really upset the world that much that SA are no.1?

Obviously another team could simply surpass us by producing more talent, but SA's team strength is not going to disintegrate anytime soon. So I ask again on what basis are we "on our own down"?

Posted by Green_and_Gold on (February 6, 2014, 9:55 GMT)

Looking forward to the series. Im more interested in how the likes of Amla and AB will bat - i think they have served SA well over the years and will be well valued wickets. Clarke is our best batsman however it was nice that during the Ashes all other top order batsman (except Bailey) got tons at some point - took some of the pressure off and showed good signs that our batting unit is progressing. Not much to say about both sides bowling attacks - they are both exceptional and will test the batsman.

Posted by Bonehead_maz on (February 6, 2014, 5:44 GMT)

con'td 4) Is Greame Smith still serious about all this ? (I suspect he's looking to captain Surrey and also Ireland as they become a Test Nation)...... further, how many innings can he play before breaking his hand on a Johnson ball ? I know we (aust) aren't that great a side, yet we currently have great commitment and focus. Other than skill, there are no questions at all about any in our team. They are fit and ready to go. Of course Watson or Harris might break down at any time, yet although they are most likely, anyone might. 2-0 Australia...... Centurion to be a rain affected ( only 250 overs played) nail biting draw..... blood on the pitch stuff.

Posted by Bonehead_maz on (February 6, 2014, 4:42 GMT)

On the face of it it's a no contest with South Africa winning easily........ However I see opportunities for Australia.

1) How will SA replace Kallis ? ..... they can't, and it's even worse for them than we trying to replace Ponting. Kallis is simply irreplaceable by any one player anywhere in world for perhaps 20 years - he was most useful payer since Sobers.

2) Is AB De Villiers hand right ? I know from personal experience that hand surgery is hard to recover from in cricket. Perhaps he'll be able to bat, but can he wicket keep ? 3) Is Dale Steyn both fit and not "past it". He bowled atrociously against India at Wanderers in December and looked so far past it as to say "gone". He (with typical sheer bloody mindedness) then recovered to destroy India's second innings on a benign Durban track. Since then he has not bowled at all until 2 days ago having "recovered"from a side strain that saw him returning in THE warm up match bowling half pace.

Posted by rickyvoncanterbury on (February 5, 2014, 13:11 GMT)

Duidelik.... Mate as you say thrash us at home and we will get your respect, now that is obvious because our good performances have not received any.

Posted by Duidelik on (February 5, 2014, 9:09 GMT)

@Sir_Francis.....good on yer mate! The only Aussie fan with a meaningful contribution on this thread! The Aussies have landed on our beautiful shores and have since been talking up a good match! We've heard about the Aussies having the no.1 bowling attack in the world....how Mitchell Johnson will intimidate us....blah blah blah! Some guy called ''Patt'' even said he saw fear in the SA batter's eyes last time he was here......by the way, Patt who???? Your lot from the 90s and early 2000s have had a lot to say both ON and OFF the field, but they could always back up their trash talking with great performances on the field (Warney, McGrath, etc.) This lot is riding on their reputation! This SA team is very different to the SA team of the 90s and early 2000s. They don't say much before a game, but trust me, come game time, they will be up in your faces on the field! (and there's no stump mike being switched on here. Lol!) First thrash us in our own backyard, and you will have my respect!

Posted by GrindAR on (February 4, 2014, 19:33 GMT)

@InfiniteWhite: I don't have the answer now. Smith has loose tongue, so sometimes it may be the buildup. CSA seems do not allow too many loose tongues as CA, where any warner, bailey... name_any can open their loose mouth to the media, probably as a strategy.... But that is the part most of the world hate about CA.

Posted by SlabbertCricket on (February 4, 2014, 19:08 GMT)

Aussies have a great attack no doubt. But how can you look past Steyn and Philander on home conditions. Philander destroyed the Aussies in his first two test. Steyn has been the best in the world the ladt five years consistantly no doubt.

Posted by Jimmyvida on (February 4, 2014, 17:29 GMT)

What a great response from the big Captain. Should be good contest.

Posted by SICHO on (February 4, 2014, 16:43 GMT)

@Ozcricketwriter Wrong!!! The only bowler to have a good series during the 2012/13 series in Aus was Morkel, it was a batsmen's series. Pattinson was suppose to blow us away but he ended where most Aussie bowlers end up these days, on a stretcher (with an average of 44). Philander had niggles during the 1st test which explained why he did not play the in 2nd match. And during first 2 tests SA did not have a complete XI because of injuries during the match. The only time SA had a complete XI was @ Perth and we all know what happened. The 2 Mitchells didn't display any brilliance last time I checked at Perth, since when is a 6 for 140+ in a total of 578 a match-winning performance? If our batsmen can put a a score of 350+ I don't see the Aussie batsmen getting past that. Those guys just can't bat outside Australia.

Posted by Highflyer_GP on (February 4, 2014, 15:52 GMT)

@Ozcricketwriter - please check the facts. Kallis was injured in the second test along with Philander. Philander was ruled out of the third test due to injury. Duminy was injured in the first test before even coming out to bat in the first innings. SA played the first match with effectively 10 men and the second match with 2 injured men. Yet we only ever hear the whinging about how Pattinson got injured in that series, and what could have been if he didn't get injured, and lots of other ifs and buts. I don't mind a little patriotism, but let's not go overboard with the garbage please. And that goes for many other comments on both sides here.

Posted by Jagger on (February 4, 2014, 14:26 GMT)

When the opposition is rated number 1 and they say "as long as there is a good contest... I will be happy if my team lost" the once spak-filled cracks suddenly become gaping wounds.

Credit to South Africa, they have done well over the past six years. That time is now over. The re-build is nowhere near complete but it has progressed more than enough to take you lot out. Only the rain can save you!

Posted by   on (February 4, 2014, 13:34 GMT)

With England's capitulation to a resurgent Australian side and the Indians still looking a bit of a work in progress, I think this is the big one that will tell us who is currently the best. My money is on the home side.

Posted by   on (February 4, 2014, 11:07 GMT)

As a saffa I feel SA will struggle to overcome Oz, as will they struggle to overcome SA ... It will be a close series in my opinion especially with SA almost certainly starting slow.

MJ, if he can reproduce his ashes form, will be a handful. Not the SA batters will be intimidated; he is good enough to be a match winner anyway. Having said that, since Morkel has dumped the nice guy attitude he can be equally difficult to deal with. No batsman enjoys balls at the armpit or throat.

As much as the Oz top order are going to struggle with sideways movement, we will too. Being used to it does not make it come straight! The key will be patience and perhaps that is where SA have the advantage.

Posted by Mervo on (February 4, 2014, 11:02 GMT)

SA are on the way down and Aus on the way up again. However, SA should win this series at home. If they don't then there will be blood on the floor. It is their series to lose.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (February 4, 2014, 10:38 GMT)

Last time Australia went to South Africa, in 2011/12, the series was tied 1-1 (2 test series), with both teams having big 2nd innings comebacks after being behind. Last time South Africa went to Australia, in 2012/13, South Africa won 1-0 (3 test series), with Vernon Philander smashed around for 0-103 in Brisbane, so bad that he was dumped from the team before a miraculous Amla + A B De Villiers comeback in Perth gave South Africa a win - in spite of brilliance from Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc. Ergo, South Africa did better away than at home. And remember - this was when Australia was at their worst. Also Johnson has done better than Philander in recent times - and that is before his recent improvement. The only bowler Australia have had trouble against in those two series is Dale Steyn. The difference will be South Africa's batting.

Posted by jonesy2 on (February 4, 2014, 10:33 GMT)

funny thing is, australias batting is better than south africas. warner, Clarke, rogers all play their best in difficult batting conditions especially dave warner,as does Watson to a degree because he almost finds batting too easy therefore boring. phil hughes destroyed south africas bowlers as a 20 year old kid and is at least 4 times the player he was now. aside from de Villiers and amla south africas batting is poor, smith will targeted at the top and cop the same tonic Alistair cook did and the rest are very ordinary with their lower order very very weak. philander better be ready for a violent assault up front by warner because I can guarantee that's what hes got coming to him and morkels rubbish. bring it.

Posted by rickyvoncanterbury on (February 4, 2014, 10:30 GMT)

I hope the Aussies compete well.... so Plumbridge will disappear like he did during the summer.

Posted by THE_MIZ on (February 4, 2014, 10:17 GMT)

@ShutTheGate,nope... warner didn't feature in the test series...I think? He scored a single ton in the Home series though

Posted by   on (February 4, 2014, 9:51 GMT)

Im following the match currently being played by SA vs SA composite XI and it looks like stiff battle at the moment. Glad SA is getting some good game time before their encounter with AUS. SA is known for its slow starts. Just hope they hit the deck running. Im looking forward to an epic series. Good luck to both teams. I hope SA wins and AUS push them to their limits.

Posted by ShutTheGate on (February 4, 2014, 9:33 GMT)

@ DylanBrah

Why do you think they will struggle. Didn't Warner make a tonne there in 2013?

Posted by Not_Another_Keybored_Expert on (February 4, 2014, 9:28 GMT)

In Adam Gilchrist's book he points out he's disappointment at Smith going public with sledging on the field because as Gilchrist says Smith was one of the biggest sledges in the game, and here we are 7 years later and he is still at it. Pot, Kettle...black.

Posted by   on (February 4, 2014, 9:25 GMT)

England flattered Australia. South Africa is just about to expose the extent of that flattery.

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 4, 2014, 9:21 GMT)

@Dylan Watson/Warner against the new ball definitely will, but I watched Warner in the Hobart greentop and I'm hoping he can show me that patience and technique again in SA. Watson I have little hope for if he stays at #3, you're right abou that. Smith I'm not so sure, he's protected at 5 so unless Australia are suffering a complete collapse he should come in with the ball a little older. Pace and bounce are non issues for him, if it's not seaming/nipping around he'll be fine. He's more likely to struggle because of Steve Smith conditions. The ones where he gets all in a tangle and gets himself out for no apparent reason.

Posted by ThePacifist10 on (February 4, 2014, 9:12 GMT)

I've already noted that batsmen who might do well on another article. There's one who I'm not expecting much from however: David Warner. His cavalier approach to opening against the new ball might backfire, much like it did for our own Dhawan. Though I believe Warner ought to get at least a 50. If he gets a ton, I'll eat my own words.

Posted by dunger.bob on (February 4, 2014, 9:03 GMT)

@ DylanBrah: FYI. If the ball starts moving off the pitch all of our batsmen will struggle. We don't like sideways movement at pace. No no no, not at all.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (February 4, 2014, 9:02 GMT)

@ Jeremy Dezso. Australia scored more runs, but SA WON, and Aus LOST, and the record books show only that. No-one cares that Aus scored more runs over the series. So what. When it came to finishing the job, and WINNING, SA did.

But, Aus jdid not limp off, whinging, like you are. Pionting took it on the chin - like a man. Here's what he said:

"That was them trying to impose themselves on the series and they did it better than I have seen any team take a game away from the opposition before," Ponting said. "A lot of the other teams we have played against over the years that have been in a position like that have been too scared to do that and push the game forward. What they did the other day was a sign that they had total belief in what they were doing. They put us under more pressure than I think we have been under for a long time so they thoroughly deserved to win this series."

Get it? That is the response of a sportsman. He's not whinging, is he?

Posted by DylanBrah on (February 4, 2014, 7:49 GMT)

Steve Smith, Watson, Warner all will struggle in SA conditions.

Posted by dunger.bob on (February 4, 2014, 7:44 GMT)

Alan_S1: "I think people fail to realise how bad England were in Australia." .. Fair enough mate. England were indeed a bunch of stranded jelly-fish. I wonder what made them that way though. It seemed to start when Harris nipped Cooks off bail and Trott started backing away to square leg, but that's only how I saw it.

Posted by Rooboy on (February 4, 2014, 7:43 GMT)

Oh come on. Some of Smith's comments about Aus throughout his career certainly belong in the bull... category as well. And for someone so adept at sifting through it, you'd reckon he'd have a better record than 5 wins and 10 losses v Aus during his time in the side. Some of the Australian's comments have been intentionally over the top but Smith dishes it out, so he should take it in return.

Posted by   on (February 4, 2014, 7:40 GMT)

All this Australian talk of their bowling attack being the best in the world is just going to annoy the Stein remover even more

Posted by Greatest_Game on (February 4, 2014, 7:21 GMT)

@ JimmySA wrote " Now lets see what happens on the field between the most in form team VS. the most consistent team of late."

Hey Jimmy - you must be talking about the Proteas vs the South Africa Composite XI match, right? For "in form" you can't beat de Kock, Hendricks, van Zyl, Abbot, Harmer etc. They will out play Thami, Rory Robbie and the 2 so-called all-rounders, Ryan and Wayne, any day of the week, and twice on sundays. I'm hoping that whatever Proteas team plays they get a woes snotklap! Maybe the selectors will wake up and smell reality, cos we all know there is a lot of cricket reality in the "Composite XI." Remember, reality bites, & I hope it bites them, hard, in the you know where!

Posted by   on (February 4, 2014, 7:12 GMT)

IPLisdull, I dont think Graeme would remember his arm being broken because that never happened. Not sure what game you were watching mate, the one I watched was where his "hand" was broken? Arm and Hand are very different in my books. I wonder if you remember Graeme coming out to bat with a broken hand and it didn't seem to phase him?

Posted by Nuxxy on (February 4, 2014, 6:58 GMT)

Living in Port Elizabeth, we are suffering near drought, and are suffering rampant veld fires because everything is so dry. So either we get some rain or some cricket. Win/win!

Posted by JimmySA on (February 4, 2014, 6:48 GMT)

I think its fair to say SA have won the media battle. Now lets see what happens on the field between the most in form team VS. the most consistent team of late.

Posted by Thuram3 on (February 4, 2014, 6:47 GMT)

A fantastic series in prospect, can't wait!!!

Posted by Greatest_Game on (February 4, 2014, 6:47 GMT)

"Pat Cummins recalled South Africa's batsmen being "scared," of Mitchell Johnson in the last series here in 2011-12."

Now THAT is a HUGE joke. What on earth is this kid Cummins talking about? Scared of Johnson? Please. Johnson was so out of form on that tour he averaged EIGHTY FIVE!! Thats right - 85! He was "miserable Mitch," not his alter ego "magnificent Mitch." He bowled 62.1 overs & conceded 255 runs all to take 3 wickets. Yup, 3 wickets at ave 85, SR 125. Only the poms could be scared of that.

Cummins is a kid who had 1 good test match & will say anything to get a reporter to talk to him as he is yesterday's news. It's highly unlikely he will have a career of note, not only because of his frailty, but because if he thinks SA were scared of miserable Mitch, he does not know much about cricket, does he?

See for yourself. I could not make up stats this bad: http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/records/averages/batting_bowling_by_team.html?id=6565;team=2;type=series

Posted by   on (February 4, 2014, 6:40 GMT)

Why are you Australians worried about us going to the games. We have to work during the week and weekends we have our own sports to play, like rugby and soccer and cricket. Then there is the hi-jacking of the ICC by India Aus and England. Who would want to go and watch cricket if this is what is happening. If CSA decide to back the takeover then I will not go to their games ever.

Posted by GlobalCricketLover on (February 4, 2014, 6:39 GMT)

@ Umesh sharma, you might want to note that SA beat Eng in Eng and Aus in Aus..

Posted by Alan_S1 on (February 4, 2014, 6:38 GMT)

I think people fail to realise how bad England were in Australia. It may have given the aussies a boost in form, they all were able to bat and bowl themselves into form but I don't think they will trouble SA in the same way. We saw some of the old Mitchell in the later one dayers and we've all seen what happens if he misses out on wickets. Harris is consistent, but Siddle and Lyon are not 50% of the best attack in the world. Add to that their middle order problems, they were 5/130 a bunch of times but dug in against England, and I don't see it ending well.

Posted by   on (February 4, 2014, 6:32 GMT)

my test team a.peterson,smith,amla,deplesis,duminy, devilliairs,parnell,r.peterson,philander,steyn,morkal.

Posted by IPLisdull on (February 4, 2014, 6:31 GMT)

hmm i wonder if graeme smith remembers when mitchell johnson broke his arm, i certainly do.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (February 4, 2014, 6:24 GMT)

"But so could someone like Michael Clarke, whose century in what was a solitary effort in Cape Town in November 2011, was an example of what he can do in tough situations."

His century was a solitary effort only for Australia. Smith and Amla both scored centuries in the same match. The situation was not particularly tough. South Africa cantered home to an 8 wicket win - hardly tough stuff at all. Just because Aus folded for 47, or SA for 96, does not mean it WAS actually tough. Both teams each made a hash out of an innings and collapsed - that's about it! Conditions were fine - 3 centuries were scored, after all!

Posted by   on (February 4, 2014, 6:09 GMT)

Hardly the hosts lose any series in the top five teams - India beat West Indies -South Africa beat India - England Did beat the Aussies - Aussies repeat the dosage Epitomising its going to be a hard job for Australia to win in South Africa albiet the former will give the latter a run for their money. Johnson is no match to the accuracy of Philander and Dale. It will be a mouth watering series though.

Posted by Mervo on (February 4, 2014, 5:53 GMT)

I wonder how long it has been since a visiting Test side goes to the first Test not having played a ball against a provincial side, invitational 11 or some other team, before the first Test?

Posted by Rahul_78 on (February 4, 2014, 5:51 GMT)

SAF need to be very very well prepared and cautious of the rampant AUS. When you are without someone like Kallis it will take not only the individual who is going to replace him but the entire XI to step up by quite a notch higher to fill in the void. Kallis gave SAF luxury of playing with 12 men instead of 11. He was the man for the crisis. Amla, Smith, Faf and AB needs to have a mamoth series with the bat to overcome AUS. India with its paper thin attack ran SAF close and were whisker away from taking 1st test. AUS are on a roll and will do all they can to carry on the momentum. However there is a gaping hole in their batting unit with only Clarke as a genuin top batsmen and plucky Haddin to the company. Steyn needs to make his priority to take out these two early and all will be bit easy for SAF. This sounds good as an idea but will take a lot to execute in the middle. Get a snicky feeling that Mitch will triumph Steyn in this battle of the2 best FAST bowlers of the world of cricket

Posted by   on (February 4, 2014, 5:16 GMT)

Australia is again trying to play the mind games by using their tounges more than their cricket skills both on and off the field, but this SA side is different than the English that they had just beaten in their home. Amla, Smith, Devilliers and Duminy will be the key in batting for SA and the first 3 mentioned above are all tough characters and wont break down under any words.

Posted by   on (February 4, 2014, 5:11 GMT)

the bowling advantage is with aus. batting with SA. aussies can win if they bat as well as the africans.

Posted by Marktc on (February 4, 2014, 5:03 GMT)

I do understand the passion from both sides, but let's face it, this is going to be a tight series. Both teams are playing good cricket. Both teams have a never say die attitude as well. The bolers are the talking point, but there will be some good batting from bath teams I predict. And Prabhakar Muthukrishnan...great insight. You should write for the press. Smith is still a good player and captain, so don't allow prejudice cloud the truth.

Posted by   on (February 4, 2014, 5:01 GMT)

I think that anyone who says Graeme is a bad TEST cricketer and not fit for the job of captaining the proteas should start watching cricket, he has captained his side to the top and recently hit a fantastic double century and still is top of the charts in forth innings, he is a match winner and I believe he will do so against Australia!

Posted by SICHO on (February 4, 2014, 4:56 GMT)

So far as a Saffa I'm actually enjoying how captains from both sides are handling the media. Clarke and his "biased" comments and Smith having none of all the talks. The last thing the Aussies would want to do is send someone like Warner to the media, I'm a bit suprised that Aussie coach is quiet so far, hmm... The only problem is the fans here on cricinfo. Some from both sides have been guilty of going overboard with ridiculous comments. Can we just allow this fascinating series to occur and enjoy the quality of cricket that we're about to be dished with. Ohhh... I see the Australians have gained Indian support, as usual when one team beats theirs they'e all with their might against it. Remember what happened when they were whitewashed 4-0 against both England and Australia? They were in support against any team against the 2. Even supporting Pakistan for that matter.

Posted by Kirk_Levin on (February 4, 2014, 4:49 GMT)

Find it amusing how suddenly all the Indians are now supporting the Aussies. But I understand, the change of opinion, given how badly Indians were humiliated by the Saffas. India came to SA with so much hype, and went home without a single win. This series will be tough but Saffas will come through. Aussie batsman's, besides Clark are easy pickings.

Posted by fayyaz03 on (February 4, 2014, 4:35 GMT)

South Africa will eat this Australian team as they have nothing exceptional other than Mitchel Johnson. I don't know why Clarke thinks he can win after getting thrashed in England and India and just winning 5 tests at home beating a mediocre team. Come on man! you are going to face the best. Show some respect.

Posted by   on (February 4, 2014, 4:26 GMT)

South Africa will definitely lose the series. It could also signal the end of Smith's captaincy and career as a cricketer.

Posted by InfiniteWhite on (February 4, 2014, 4:09 GMT)

@GrindAr..My comment was a bit deeper than you think. Was it a coincidence that SA lost when Smith got hit?

Posted by insightfulcricketer on (February 4, 2014, 3:58 GMT)

IMHO this is going to be a terrific series. Aussies need to be warned that against Eng their batting usually failed and was back-stopped by Haddin.England was almost a one man attack so there was possiblity to escape. Against SA - in Daly Steyn ,Philander and to an extens Morkel there might not be a weak link.Especially with Petersen doing such a great holding job against the Indians. SA batting in turn will also be thoroughly examined by the expert Aussie attack.It might just boil down to will Amla be the rock around which SA bat and will Steyn bowl like he did in last Durban test.Two check marks and it will be SA bounding to victory in close fought games.

Posted by GrindAR on (February 4, 2014, 3:57 GMT)

@InfiniteWhite: Its applicable to all including whom you hate and love.

Posted by millsy24 on (February 4, 2014, 3:53 GMT)

Some of these comments are ridiculous. Of course SA are and should be favourites, but I think our guys are going to give them a run for their money, they won't back down anymore when things get a bit tough like they used to. There are no barbs or jibes, Clarke was talking about the whole bowling unit "in his biased opinion". If the 3 main quicks were to get injured, then we have more who can step in if required now they that have recovered or are recovering from their injuries. One thing I can guarantee though, there is no way our guys would not try to win the game when there is plenty of time to do it and not many runs required. No way would our tailenders block it out for a draw.

Posted by Vishnu27 on (February 4, 2014, 3:52 GMT)

wapuser: you are living in a total fanboy dream world! Look at the stats & history between the two teams. This will be a very close series. Advantage to SA though.

Posted by wapuser on (February 4, 2014, 3:27 GMT)

Long story short, it will be a bloodbath, Australia will be crying back to the airport after they are made to eat a decent helping of humble pie. They are nowhere near South Africa's level, christ even my Blackcaps could roll that lot.

Posted by   on (February 4, 2014, 3:20 GMT)

As a Pakistani, I support SA.

The Defiant 3 vs the Big 3 !

Posted by BradmanBestEver on (February 4, 2014, 3:04 GMT)

Can MJ maintain his new-found consistency? That is the question

Posted by GrindAR on (February 4, 2014, 2:52 GMT)

Is this sure... the series have 3Ts and 3T20s.... Is this what CSA wanted to have?

Posted by GrindAR on (February 4, 2014, 2:45 GMT)

SA did not win the first was a one time blip. If they got same Faf/ABD/JPD and Q De Cock, Philander - Aus will taste the bitterness of thier own words... SA have complementing set of bowlers in Pace and Medium Pace / Swing. Morkel have to be fit althrough.... If that happens... Current Aus unit will actually get the actual taste of 90's Cricket... You cannot bully SA player and they dont want to hear what you blabber... They probably might have the answer in the showing... if at all going to be visible... I love no-sledging cricket... who ever wins without seeking sledging will win hearts... else.. it is going to be like team eng's current state... They don't even respect themselves now... after their skin got into b2b torutures 13 times with a breathing timeon the 9th chance.... Oooof... a team that has so much of bragging... has to endure 10 times the pain caused by Aus. Lets see if they want to completely abandon Cricket and ECB do something else... importantly not pulling ICC.

Posted by dunger.bob on (February 4, 2014, 2:33 GMT)

Smith plays his cards close to his chest doesn't he. Fair enough too, our boys are making enough noise for both teams.

I just hope that after all the hoo-haa and trash talk is said and done we have a cracking series to watch and admire. South Africa is a team that's first and foremost extremely hard to beat. In the last few series we've had them under some genuine pressure but they usually find a way out. I don't expect that to change.

We seem to have a different mindset to SA and are less consistent in our play resulting in boom or bust, feast or famine style results. When we're good we actually are pretty good but when we're bad we're horrid.

This clash of styles is the most fascinating thing about this series. The SA batting is very solid and steady with a more traditional mix of attack and defence than ours. Our batting is not as reliable but, on it's day, can do some serious damage very quickly.

The bowling advantage has to be with SA given they're very good and at home.

Posted by heathrf1974 on (February 4, 2014, 2:33 GMT)

As I've said before SA are definite favourites and it is the performance of the Aussie batting that will determine the series result. If the Aussies lose this series by no more than 1 test I will be happy.

Posted by featurewriter on (February 4, 2014, 2:30 GMT)

I can't wait for this series to begin. As an Aussie, I am particularly interested to see how well our guys perform on the back of a series of cricket resurrection in our country. Were we that good? Or was England that bad? Like most Australians, I have admiration and respect for the SA team. Going way back to Barry Richards (and then Proctor, Pollock, Rice, Le Roux and others), I love the way they play their cricket. Graeme Smith, in particular, is a throw-back to those days. Gritty, gutsy, a no BS bloke. We may be on separate continents, but no two countries have ever been closer in terms of culture, attitude and sporting performance. Can't wait!

Posted by bren19 on (February 4, 2014, 2:05 GMT)

Interesting series - even pace attacks - batting will be interesting too. No Kallis, Aust with some confidence - I just wonder if they decided to put an impressive young leggie in the side named Muirhead he might just prove the difference.

Posted by InfiniteWhite on (February 4, 2014, 1:58 GMT)

One hit to the body, and we'll see whether Smith can still focus. As Mike Tyson used to say, 'everyone has a plan...until they got hit'.

Posted by Mitcher on (February 4, 2014, 1:44 GMT)

I am licking my lips over this one. Have loved following our trips to the Republic since readmission. Always hard fought out in the middle and I am an unabashed fan of the SA wickets which always separate the men from the boys. Much of the usual bluster from commenters on here - I do remember a wonderful time when people actually used to debate cricket on this site. For mine, SA are firm favourites due to their settled line-up and consistently dangerous bowling attack. But, Australia's post readmission record in SA, and the form coming in from the Ashes, cannot be denied. I know I'll be missing lots of sleep for this little beauty!!

Posted by camcove on (February 4, 2014, 1:03 GMT)

@ Jacob Maermerrie - I hope you're wrong about the weather! I am going to a corporate box at Centurion on the first day. I went on the first day of the 'Gabba test when SA came to Oz last, and I can't wait. People tell me Centurion is a fantastic place for the spectator. As I tell my Saffer friends, it doesn't matter (to quote the Rock) who is batting, because the bowling should be fun to watch, whoever bats first. I enjoy the Super Sports commentators when I am in SA, and I think it was Keppler (who used to be a Queenslander, you know, just displaying my parochial loyalties!!) who suggested that SA should watch out for Lyon. The quicks are fantastic, but don't underestimate Lyon's contributions. He was excellent against the Poms and continues to improve in leaps and bounds (still only being a baby when it comes to finger spin). In AB de Villiers and Amla, you have two of the great bats in the world. We have one in MJ. I would expect Doolan to bat at 3. Here's to a result!

Posted by Shaggy076 on (February 4, 2014, 0:56 GMT)

You cricinfo writers are very good at stirring the pot - take " simmering when Michael Clarke called Australia's bowling attack the "best in the world," - Please Michael Clarke's comments were very respectful of the South Africans and before saying the best in the world he used the words in my biased opinion. Clarke or any Australian for that matter have never declared that all we need to do is turn-up and win, they have just made comments that they are confident they can achieve success. I'm sorry but if any team didn't go in with this mindset then they might as well not tour.

Posted by Saosin on (February 4, 2014, 0:33 GMT)

As an Aussie, Smith's response is awesome.

I back our blokes for poking at SAF, and I back Smith for his deadpan response. Awesome stuff!

Aussies going in as the 'baddies' is an excellent media angle and there'll be some panto-villains same as there ever was.

Both sides have plenty to play for (Aus trashed the pathetic English side, but anyone who knows cricket knows that doesn't mean jack in comparison to the mighty SAF unit, whereas SAF will want to beat Aus at home to finally put that aspect to rest).

Should be a lively series - no Kallis will, no matter what the players, media and/or fans say, have a massively negative impact on SAF. Not because they lack depth, they don't, but because Kallis is THE best all-rounder in history bar none. Sobers bowled at 34 runs per wicket on goatmines. Simply because he bowled spin occasionally doesn't add value - the raw figure says enough.

Aus have 2 or 3 huge holes in the order that were papered over in our summer. To win would be special.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (February 4, 2014, 0:27 GMT)

It is hilarious to read all of this talk about South Africa being better at home. Next thing you know we will be trying to say that India tours well. Just nonsense. And these two captains are arguing a lot less than people commenting on these arguments, and a lot less abusive too.

Posted by MinusZero on (February 4, 2014, 0:22 GMT)

By all means think that you will rattle Smith. In the mean time, Amla and Devilliers are taking you apart, so by all means, target Smith. On the other side of the fence, Steyn, Philander and Morkel will be taking apart the weak Australian batting. Surely Watson is on his last chance.

Posted by izzidole on (February 4, 2014, 0:22 GMT)

Michael Clarke and his team mates should think twice about what they say before the series has even started because it can in fact trigger the likes of Steyn, Philander and Morne Morkel to go after Australia's batsmen with added vigour. This is exactly what happened to England in the last ashes as they just couldn't recover from the onslaught from Mitchell Johnson after the Barmy Army and the English media targetted him even before the series had started with insulting remarks. This could be a tactic employed by Clarke to get a psychological advantage over South Africa beforehand but it could also backfire very badly. It's always better not to divulge your secret weapon or tactics earlier because the opposition could come well prepared and eventually the plans may not work. South Africans are great fighters and wouldn't succumb easily like the poms. The drawn test in Adelaide in 2012 says it all.

Posted by Flashdakota on (February 3, 2014, 23:31 GMT)

@taipan57.. Bud you need to read the full sentence... "The same Australia they have not beaten in a series at home since readmission"

NOTE THE WORDS "SINCE READMISSION"

Posted by landl47 on (February 3, 2014, 23:26 GMT)

A lot will depend on whether Mitch Johnson can retain his Ashes form and Ryan Harris can maintain his fitness. As we all know, both have had long spells where that didn't happen, but for the Ashes they got it right. If they can bowl as they did against England, then Australia has a good chance. Another Aussie advantage is that Lyon is bowling very well and SA doesn't have a comparable spinner.

However, whether the Aus batting can score enough runs is gong to be a big issue.

It should be a good series

Posted by KeepitHonest on (February 3, 2014, 23:22 GMT)

C'mon Proteas, give the OZ's a hiding of a lifetime - oe they will never forget. They have always been one big bag of hot air and the time has come for you guys to deflate it for good. Send them down the ranking rungs to #8 where they belong.I expect nothing short of a whitewash.

Posted by Hello13 on (February 3, 2014, 23:18 GMT)

It's also quite funny how the Australian coach hasnt been blabbing as much this time. Maybe he knows what's coming

Posted by one-eyed-but-keepinitreal on (February 3, 2014, 22:15 GMT)

Smith has always reminded me of the schoolyard kid who starts a fight only to run to the teacher because he is being picked on.

Posted by cricketcritic on (February 3, 2014, 22:07 GMT)

Good on Smith, he's so right. Patt Cummins has had a crack I see - who is Patt Cummins? If he's lucky he might get to play against the likes of De Villiers, Amla, Smith, more likely he'll be providing the water. Aussie brashness knows no bounds - do they even have a media strategy cos man it's embarrassing?

Posted by Biggus on (February 3, 2014, 22:06 GMT)

@NixNixon:- Given that you were railing against the overconfidence of some Aussie fans a couple of weeks ago I'm surprised by the tone of your posts. It would appear that obnoxious overconfidence is ok for you but not for us? As it so happens I think you're all nuts, SA are certainly favourites but I wouldn't be mortgaging the house to place a bet on it. On top of that we Aussies have a strong record against your team and are not in ANY way overwhelmed by their reputation. Your bluster isn't very smart really, but you've said it now and a line in the sand has been marked, so should the series not go your way (3-0 is your prediction so a 'mere' win doesn't count) I do hope you'll be available for comment? 3-0 is the prediction so anything short of that and you've some explaining to do nix. England were favourites before the Ashes you know......

Posted by ShutTheGate on (February 3, 2014, 21:53 GMT)

Maybe with this pre series hype South Africa might have a reasonable amount of fans actually turn up to the ground to watch the games. The grounds looked pretty much empty when they played India.

And to all those claiming that SA aren't participating in the pre-series verbals and that they're too good for that, well "The moving ball is something we have become accustomed to. Our bowling attack knows how to exploit conditions here." they've already taken the bait. The mental games have begun. Graeme your batting hasn't exactly been red hot in the last 6 months. Only one half century is it? Reminds me of Alistair Cook's last 6 months.

Posted by ScottStevo on (February 3, 2014, 21:50 GMT)

Smith must be getting calmer in his old age! I recollect several times him turning up against Australia proclaiming this, that and the other before being sent home weeping with his tail between his legs and his foot wedged in his mouth...The exuberance of youth! Well, this time, as firm favourites, there's no need for him to bother. Well played, indeed! Australia have nothing to lose here in this series, so I hope we go at them full tilt. They're short of Kallis and there's nobody close to his replacement anywhere in world cricket, Amla has been a little out of sorts and I'm sure I read ABDV has recently had surgery on his hand, it might just be the right time to get amongst SA. The Aus top order need to deliver here - tough ask against the best pace attack in their own back yard, but I'm hopeful we can get a good result. If Aus do, it would be wrong to take #1 from SA, but this used to happen to us when SA showed up against us too. Stupid rankings...

Posted by   on (February 3, 2014, 21:38 GMT)

@Jeremy Dezso - If, in your words "Australia have never lost in RSA", then what happened in 1966-67 when Australia toured South Africa???

...or maybe I'm hallucinating...

Maybe you're the one who should get off your high Australian horse...

Posted by Sir_Francis on (February 3, 2014, 21:37 GMT)

I wonder what the indian batsmen would think of Clarke's claim our bowlers are the best in the world. 4 - 0 wasn't it?

If you compare test records, SA's bowlers are miles better than ours and they are in home conditions. Moreover, we only have one world class batsmen and they have several. I think we'll be competitive but I'd be surprised if we win. After all, we aren't playing the poms any more we are playing a real team.

Posted by pat_one_back on (February 3, 2014, 20:36 GMT)

Good luck @NixNixon, with you level of blind optimism you'll need it, we all know what happened to @FFL once cricket set the record straight. As a general rule, challengers do all the talking in sport, reigning champs don't need to, your big talk only highlights your nerves about the series. While Series results (ah definitely not 3-0) and rankings of all variety have SA on top, this No 1 team at their peak have proven unable to dominate weaker Aust opposition than this, SA look as ripe as Eng, peaked and tapering, For example I can't even remember the last time Aust didn't completely thump India playing at home, you know, the crew NZ are trouncing in ODI. Brace yourself, this may hurt, a lot.

Posted by Deanwsmith on (February 3, 2014, 20:31 GMT)

Id love to see Australia win this series, but i think it is more likely that SA will win. The only weakness SA have is in their spinner Tahir. Other than that, the batting, bowling, fielding and captaincy are world class. Graeme Smith could be accused of being a little defensive at times, but while they are winning, who cares! Australia is still a side under construction with gaps to fill

Posted by   on (February 3, 2014, 20:24 GMT)

Clarke has said South Africa are favourites after calling his pace attack the best in the world. Reading between the lines he himself has conceded that our batting line-up is weak.

@NixNixon : Actually that Australia scored more runs is a pertinent fact - the batting is widely espoused as Aus' big weakness and Smith seems to be sneering at the relevance of scoring in Australia runs because it's supposedly too easy. But in the previous series the difference between winning and losing was a quality bowling attack - remember we had Ben Hilfenhaus with the new ball? Remember we dropped our entire pace attack between two matches? These things will never happen again.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2014, 19:59 GMT)

I cannot believe the kind of hype the SA media is trying to create hype for this series by portraying Aussies as villains. Clarke first accepted that SA start as favourites. Go Aussies!!! do not come home without a fight. Victory will look after itself.

Posted by Chris_P on (February 3, 2014, 19:36 GMT)

@NixNixon. I got no issues with any team supporters being parochial, but please, if you are going to quote stats, get them right. 3 in a row? Is that right? I guess the fact Australia drew the 2011 series over there with a new & developing team is conveniently forgotten?

Posted by   on (February 3, 2014, 19:08 GMT)

@Jacob Maermerrie Durban was a subcontinental wicket; the fact that you didn't realize that throws all your 'analysis' out the window. Go back to school, learn how to "research" and come join the forum then and we can talk about Test Cricket.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2014, 19:04 GMT)

The likes of Smith and Peterson would be walking wickets for Mitchell Johnson and co. If the Aussie batsmen are patient and see off the new ball, as the young Indian battling line up recently showed, the SA bowlers will more often than not struggle. Patience initially is the key word. After the shine is gone, South African attack will also be gone.

Posted by taipan57 on (February 3, 2014, 18:55 GMT)

" Australia have never lost in SA"

Oh dear. Does Mr Lawry know about this?

Posted by amfas on (February 3, 2014, 18:52 GMT)

Why do some supporters become so flippant & arrogant when their respective sides meet a worthy opponent. Surely a few recent international results should be warning enough to tread carefully with ill founded statements that may well come back to bite them. Still nice to see constructive comments from the cricket purists though!!!!.

Posted by NixNixon on (February 3, 2014, 18:32 GMT)

and also the "we scored more runs" is a prime example of the excuses coming from AUS fans. If you lose you lose. And you will lose again against SA so start thinking of new excuses.

Posted by NixNixon on (February 3, 2014, 18:28 GMT)

Yea scored more runs to LOSE, that's the key word right there LOSE. we won twice in Australia and now we are going win again in SA.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2014, 18:26 GMT)

Having known the conditions this time of the year here all my life, I fully expect the test at Centurion to be so weather affected that I think that the first test will end in a draw. I am a punting man and there is a huge difference between form and history___the only real form that we have to work on is that of SA against a highly overrated Indian team, yet second rate bowlers had us in a lot of trouble at the Wanderers and the feared Steyn was as dangerous as flat soda water!! We nailed them in Durban where a 15-yr old could also swing the ball but we still nailed them!! The Aussies annihilated an English team that was" the best in the world " not so long ago!!! So were the English simply that bad? I for one do not think so!! I have drawn clips from Mitch Johnson from 2 years ago and now___it is not the same man___even Tendulkar warned the Englsih but they were too clever, just like Smith and Co! So, I made a fortune on the Ashes and I am telling you now__Aus 2-0!

Posted by   on (February 3, 2014, 18:07 GMT)

@NixNixon 3 in a row? Get your facts right or you look foolish. The 2011/12 series was a 1-1 draw and Australia scored more runs than RSA in the following series to lose 0-1 so get off your high horse dude. Australia have never lost in RSA, that's a pretty embarrassing record for RSA lol.

And Australia scored more runs than RSA in the

Posted by NixNixon on (February 3, 2014, 17:48 GMT)

@Ragav999 , when SA wins 3-0 it will be the 3rd series win for us in a row against AUS and then no more excuses please. All this ifs an buts is ridiculous, the scoreboard counts. AUS can then go try win in eng for a start and then the rest and then challenge us again for top ranking.

Posted by Ragav999 on (February 3, 2014, 17:23 GMT)

Expecting more comments predicting easy SA win. Then the Aussie victory will be all the more sweeter. The only difference is in the batting strength of the two sides. Some one from this Aussie batting needs to bat like Bradman in this series to compensate for their weaker line up and make it a series victory worth remembering for the ages.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2014, 16:53 GMT)

Well this series ought to be good. Absolutely can't wait for a cracker of a contest, although I hardly think that South Africa will be troubled by Mitchell Johnson's pace to the same extent that England were.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2014, 16:48 GMT)

GO Biff captain my captain!

Posted by Manxmuppet on (February 3, 2014, 16:45 GMT)

This is going to be a really good series of Test match cricket. When it's over we'll know just how good this Aussie side is rather than having to rely on the hyperbole following their trouncing of an under-performing Eng side.

May the real games commence........

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on (February 3, 2014, 16:41 GMT)

Australia will whitewash SA 3-0. SA showed against India that will take a draw when a win is right before them. Australia will treat that attitude like a wounded prey.

Posted by MCC_Tie on (February 3, 2014, 16:37 GMT)

Absolutely cannot wait. This is going to be REAL Test cricket at its finest. I like the way Biff and SA have gone about their business, not rising to the numerous barbs and jibes from the Aussie camp. That is the kind of behaviour I like from the world's best team, shows confidence and determination. Roll on the first Test.

Posted by Hello13 on (February 3, 2014, 16:37 GMT)

South Africa are way too good a side to fall for the usual garbage from Australia. Steyn and Co are going to have some fun.

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Tour Results
South Africa v Australia at Centurion - Mar 14, 2014
Australia won by 6 wickets (with 30 balls remaining)
South Africa v Australia at Durban - Mar 12, 2014
Australia won by 5 wickets (with 2 balls remaining)
South Africa v Australia at Port Elizabeth - Mar 9, 2014
Match abandoned without a ball bowled
South Africa v Australia at Cape Town - Mar 1-5, 2014
Australia won by 245 runs
South Africa v Australia at Port Elizabeth - Feb 20-23, 2014
South Africa won by 231 runs
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News | Features Last 3 days