South Africa v Australia, 1st Test, Centurion, 3rd day February 14, 2014

'Be prepared to get hurt' - de Villiers


AB de Villiers acknowledged it takes more than just sound technique to face Mitchell Johnson with success, it also requires a lot of heart.

"You can't show weakness," he said. "You've got to be prepared to get hurt. Once you don't have that fear of getting hurt, you can play him. Most of the time you get yourself out. He doesn't really bowl you a peach of a delivery, you get yourself out."

De Villiers was the only South Africa batsman who had some measure of Johnson, whose short ball and searing speeds proved too much for the rest. Even though de Villiers also wore one - on the forearm late on the second day - he reminded himself of the basics he needed to apply against Johnson.

"He came hard at all of us. He is an x-factor bowler, like Russell [Domingo] said. I just watched the ball, tried to move quite early and just trusted my instincts from there on there on," he said. "If you're lackadaisical, you are going to get hurt."

What helped de Villiers is that he also faced Johnson when the ball was older and he said as soon as that happens, conditions become easier for run scoring. "I felt comfortable from 35 overs onward."

With that knowledge, de Villiers has a plan for how South Africa can attempt to save the game in the second dig. "Once we get through the new ball, we should find it easier. If we bat well enough we may even get two new balls, so we will have to get through that as well. If we can do that, we can fight back."

Despite the fighting talk, de Villiers admitted South Africa are staring down the barrel, but suggested the hosts have not quite had the rub of the green. "It felt like anything that came off the glove when they were in the field went to hand," he said. "I can't count the times some of their batsmen were hit the gloves and hands and it went over slip. When one team has got confidence, things seem to happen a lot easier for them; the bowlers look more skilful. That's the situation we are in now.

"We're in a bit of trouble obviously. Australia have dominated for pretty much the whole Test match, which is disappointing. But we're not going to give up. There is only one team playing this Test match at the moment. But giving up doesn't exist for us. We know the declaration can't be too far away. We know what we are up against it."

South Africa will draw inspiration from the 148 overs they batted out in Adelaide in November 2012 and the 136 at the Wanderers last year, even though they will probably need to see out more here on a different surface. While Adelaide was flat and the Wanderers got better as the match went on, the Centurion strip has already showed signs of inconsistent bounce, which will have Johnson drooling, and its cracks are opening up.

However, if South Africa are nervous de Villiers didn't show it. "Everything that hit a crack today missed the bat by a long way so that's good for us," he said. "The bounce is the dangerous part. With the cracks, it was just that one or two kicked up. If we can overcome that, we could come close to an upset or saving this Test match."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • David on February 15, 2014, 11:30 GMT

    @ ZCFOutcast writes "Don't be surprised to see the likes of Root&Williamson in the end being held in much higher esteem as a result(same goes for Clarke,Bell&Chanders if they don't grow a pair too). In my opinion those 3 along with AB&Hussey will be remembered as cowards who shirked going up the order "

    In your opinion, but ONLY in your opinion. Perhaps there may be another cave dweller who shares your ill-informed, bizarre opinions, but that is it. The rest of the world disagrees with you. Perhaps you might consider your own advice and grow a pair - and recognize that your opinions are not shared by the rest of the cricket community, and that repeating them endlessly is not going to change anyone's opinion. Blowing hot air may be your speciality, but this is not a balloon, and nothing will float here.

  • John on February 15, 2014, 11:29 GMT

    As an England fan, it's a little bit comforting to see SA struggle against Australia on their own turf, suggesting that maybe England weren't quite as bad as they seemed. On the other hand though, it might indicate that Australia are going to dominate again, which is certainly not what any England fan wants. I think it's safe to say that Mitchell Johnson is the major difference between Australia and their opposition at the moment, but that's cold comfort. If he keeps bowling like this then it's going to be tough for anyone to match them. The batting still looks a bit shaky but they have again managed to get one or two people to stand up when needed, which is all you really need when you're bowling the opposition out as quickly as they are right now. Their fielding is also absolutely first class at the moment and that's a major factor. England let themselves down with dropped catches in Adelaide in particular and SA have done so here as well. Australia have grabbed every half-chance.

  • Subramani on February 15, 2014, 11:25 GMT

    I fully agree with Pradiptamohan Basu. Johnson is so effective because of his slingshot action much like Jeff Thomson used to bowl. Morkel hits the high 145kmph level virtually every ball but has not been getting the wickets that Johnson has been. That apart, at the pace he bowls he also has late swing which is what makes him more lethal.Johnson was always very good but probably got de-motivated because he lost form in England and was often ridiculed. He got his rhythm and self confidence back in the IPL and in the ODI's in India. I think the secret is that he has slowed down his runup and now does the perfect cartwheel which is the essence of fast bowling and weight transfer.Success has given him that confidence.How important confidence is can be seen in the lack of success of Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron both of who consistently bowl in the high 145kmphs pace.A good bowling coach who these two understand can make these two absolute match-winners. Apart from a good thinking captain.

  • John on February 15, 2014, 11:24 GMT

    @ZCFOutkast on (February 15, 2014, 8:18 GMT), I'm not going to offer an opinion one way or another on your stance regarding the #3 position but one thing I will say is that Ian Bell wants to bat at #3. He has said that on more than one occasion. The fact that he didn't bat there in the recent Ashes was because of the selectors decision, not his. I believe the primary motivation was to avoid everyone below #4 being inexperienced or out of form. Whether his batting at #3 would have made any difference is open to debate but it's safe to say that, given the chance, he would have. The last time he filled in for Trott at #3 he did very well and scored at least one hundred.

  • David on February 15, 2014, 11:24 GMT

    @ ZCFOutkast "I say it everytime, this bloke (de Villiers) wouldn't be so brilliant if he was batting up the order."

    The fact that you say it over and over and over does not make it any truer. You can say it a thousand times - it is still rubbish. He came in earlier than any #4 expects to, and mastered the conditions, & Johnson. You are so stuck in your opinions you cannot recognize how absolutely out of touch they are. He comes in as early as any #4 because Alviro barely lasts an over or 2. Alviro is such a waste of space in this team it it is beyond pathetic. He makes AB a #4 batsman almost every innings, yet you rubbish AB at every opportunity and defend Alviro like he is a valuable player, which he is clearly not.

    It is impossible to read your comments and not see that they are coloured by prejudice, making their worth questionable very time. AB is the #1 batsman in the world. If SA had 2 decent openers, he could bat at #4 and there would be no difference.

  • Xiong on February 15, 2014, 10:48 GMT

    @NBZ1 It's definitely a bad shot or a bit of movement or whatever, but it misses the stumps more than it hits usually. Just like the... 5? nicks that SA have had in this innings that haven't gone to hand. They're not good shots are they? But if they all went to hand it'd be pretty lucky, you expect a few to take a thick edge and go down to 3rd man, it just happens that way a lot, just the same as you expect a decent percentage of inside edges to go down the leg side or bounce over the top.

    @ultimatewarrior Bodyline would be Johnson around the wicket to a left hander with 5 guys making a ring on the leg side behind square and just in front. You can't do bodyline anymore, it's against the rules, you can't have fielders in the spots for it. Not to mention the protective gear and whatnot.

    On point, I think Australia bowled pretty poorly. Way too short.

  • ZCF on February 15, 2014, 10:38 GMT

    @NZB1 depends on your opinion of the quality of opening&change seamers plus spinners of both generations.

  • ESPN on February 15, 2014, 10:37 GMT

    I'm not sure if it was intentional, but this title is pure linkbait. My immediate impression was that de Villiers had made some kind of threat, which is obviously not the case.

  • Cam on February 15, 2014, 9:13 GMT

    @NBZ1, I agree, playing on isn't bad luck, it's a false shot.

  • Lou on February 15, 2014, 8:34 GMT

    Boucher said pretty much the same thing in an interview. He whinged about the batsmen getting themselves out. If Morkel had bowled bouncers like that, you never would have heard the end of how brilliantly he'd used the short ball.

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