South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Port Elizabeth February 19, 2014

Smith unbowed in Johnson battles

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Graeme Smith could spend the next 12 hours hearing the crack the bones in his hand made when Mitchell Johnson broke it and wonder when he will have to hear that sound again. But he'd rather spend it thinking about the twin cuts he smacked off Johnson in Perth in December 2008, which took him to his century and set up South Africa's win. Or about the quiet off-side single he took in Cape Town in 2011 after hammering Johnson for four earlier in the over, which gave him another century in another match South Africa won.

The score, as it stands, is level. Johnson has broken Smith's hand twice in matches in which Australia have defeated South Africa. And Smith has scored two hundreds against an Australia attack featuring Johnson, both times taking his milestone runs off the left-armer and both times in matches where South Africa triumphed. It is those he is going to remember in the lead up to the second Test.

"I can go and watch some videos of scoring hundreds against Mitchell, which I've done," Smith said, when asked whether he will do anything specific to prepare for his next encounter with Johnson. And he has asked the rest of his line-up to do the same. "I think every player here has had success against this attack and not so long ago. It's important not to get caught up in the hype.

"Obviously Mitchell has bowled extremely well and bowled aggressively, and we all know that creates headlines, creates stories, creates fanfare. There's a huge amount of respect in our team for someone who is performing well. But it's important not to get caught up in that. We've had a general group discussion on areas where we want to improve. We haven't watched any more video or anything different than what we would have done before the first Test. Our mindsets and our gameplans are good. Ultimately it's about walking the walk now."

Smith's level-headed approach may smack of someone simply trying to put on a brave face but it has its roots in a good point. Johnson has played 10 Tests against South Africa and taken 54 wickets at a better average (25.66) than his overall one (27.50), which is evidence he has something over them. But there is nothing else that conclusively proves that Johnson has a stranglehold over South Africa.

The 10 matches he has featured in against South Africa are split straight down the middle, with Australia's winning five and South Africa the other five. That means South Africa have as many good memories of playing against Johnson as they do bad ones, which is why Smith does not want to overplay the Johnson factor.

He also doesn't want to place too much emphasis on Australia being some sort of nemesis for South Africa. Given that they have not beaten them in a series at home since readmission, it is clear South Africa do have an extra bone to pick with Australia but Smith does not want them labelled as South Africa's toughest opposition.

He claims they have had to come back against equally daunting teams in the past, most recently in the UAE. "Obviously Australia are playing really well at the moment - they're hot and they're in form which is always a challenge," he said. "But Pakistan in the UAE - going one-nil down there and being able to bounce back in conditions that South African teams have generally found tough was also a challenge."

Then, South Africa's line-up also struggled against a left-armer in the uber-tall Mohammed Irfan before Zulfiqur Babar and Saeed Ajmal outspun them. Although the margin of defeat in Abu Dhabi was a hefty seven wickets, South Africa were already clawing their way back by the second innings of that match. They nipped out three quick wickets in the Pakistan chase to show signs of improvement ahead of their series-levelling win in Dubai.

This time, they are dealing with something different. Johnson delivered a knockout blow in the first innings with his 7 for 68 and South Africa were still dazed in the second. He took another five. AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla are the only two batsmen who seem to be able to deal with him. The rest played shots they would rather forget, which led one Australian journalist to ask whether there was some credibility on the line for South Africa's batsmen going into this match.

Smith brushed it off as an overreaction, the same way he has with most things in the last few days. "One dismissal doesn't make you lose credibility," he said. "Anyway, I've made a career out of looking ugly."

The South Africa captain will think about that, too, before the first ball is bowled at St George's Park tomorrow. He has turned the ungainly mow into a shot that can win Test matches and he will need it more than ever over the next five days.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Django on | February 24, 2014, 19:34 GMT

    How many wickets did Johnson get in the second test?

  • POSTED BY Meety on | February 21, 2014, 2:25 GMT

    @ Greatest_Game on (February 20, 2014, 6:51 GMT) - so in other words, what you are saying is that Morkel got lucky 184 times? Must be the luckiest bowler to have ever played the game. :)

  • POSTED BY onelongsummer on | February 20, 2014, 9:05 GMT

    Django

    Johnson to Amla OUT LBW !! How do you do that only being able to bowl short ???

  • POSTED BY wijeya on | February 20, 2014, 8:58 GMT

    For all you armchair fans, this is why the modern day batsmen with their tree trunk bats these days are not half as good as the olden day batsmen who would have faced Johnson without a helmet on a pitch most modern day batsmen would refuse to bat on

  • POSTED BY Chris_P on | February 20, 2014, 7:55 GMT

    @Greatest_Game. Not sure why you waste your time responding to jonesy. He only posts for a reaction & never reads posts. He is our FFL & hello13, Cpt Meanster et al. As you no doubt have read, serious Aussie cricket followers have never begrudged your team's current status, which is attained over sustained form over a period time (home & away). We may have to disagree that we won't ever get back to #1, I personally believe we will get there a lot sooner than I was thinking a year ago, but the next 18 months will reveal more. Good to see test cricket stir up emotions so much, there is plenty to say about it.

  • POSTED BY Hammer-time on | February 20, 2014, 7:44 GMT

    The amount of negative posts against Australia and Johnson in particular on this site , especially by our Indian 'armchair experts' really makes you wonder if they actually watch cricket or just read the scores at the end of play . Still going on about beating us last year in India ... A team that was NOTHING like the squad at the moment. Aus is on a roll at the moment with a totally different mind set . You can see the confidence building in this TEAM . Team being the main thing , not a couple of individuals who preform every so often when conditions suit them like India have. Australia always look forward not back and are looking to make their own history . SA batting looks weak as water with Kallis not there and can`t see them making anywhere near 300 in any innings against us at the moment . With the batsman getting better every test they play it`s gonna be hard to see SA coming close to us .

  • POSTED BY Rahul_78 on | February 20, 2014, 7:22 GMT

    The BIG difference is this Mitch Version 2.0 is a nastiest beast in the park. Mitch is not out there to just take the wickets but he is after batsmen s blood in literal sense. A guy who can tonk someone like Amla who is one of the finest when it comes to test cricket flush on the grill can never be taken lightly. Smith is a proven performer and has nothing to prove but if he fails the Johnson test it will remain a black mark on his imperious record. It is up to Smith to set the tone and lead from the front. If he can counter Johnson threat it will go long way to instill the belief in his shaken and steered batsmen. Also dont forget that this SAF team is without their toughest Armour in Kallis. If this were a video game SAF will start with 25% less in their energy level. Time of seniors to stand up and be counted.

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | February 20, 2014, 7:01 GMT

    @ jonesy2 also wrote "Australia are the best team in the world and will be number 1 for the foreseeable 10-15 years at least, get used to it Graeme."

    Sorry, wrong again old chap. Don't they give you much access to the TV and the computer these days? I guess not. Must be tough missing out on cricket?

    SA are the no. 1 side, and Aus can win every match in this series and they won't catch up because they were sooooo bad, for sooooo long, that they are behind by several hundred country miles.

    Aus will be lucky to stay in the top 3. The world has moved on, & you were left behind. Really, if you did not know that Morkel had taken a test wicket, how much can you actually know about modern cricket, stuck in your room in that institution all day long. We will try to keep helping you as much as we can, but you will have to try to overcome the "Aussie Dominance" delusions you keep having. That ended years ago, and is not coming back.

    Keep on writing in & we will answer your questions as we can

  • POSTED BY Jagger on | February 20, 2014, 7:01 GMT

    @ Django - the title of this article probably got you a bit teary eyed and steamed up but to set the record straight do you know what a contradiction is? It's when you state something as fact and in one sentence and then discredit your own statement in the next. Logically, one sentence has much to be desired.

    I know you lot would love to write off the first Test thrashing at 'the fortress' as a minor aberration in an otherwise smooth sail from here on in, but I remind one and all that's what the Poms and many of you Saffers said about a weaker side back home before we won The Ashes 5-nil. Except the excuse that time was The 'Gabba is a fortress...

    As I write the largest betting exchange in the world has the draw as clear favourite, Australia and South Africa dead even, second.

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | February 20, 2014, 6:51 GMT

    @ jonesy2 - we know you have great difficulties with your special needs, so I researched your question "has morkel ever taken a test wicket? I seriously am not even sure."

    To date Morkel has taken 184 test wickets. I hope that answers your question & solves the muddled puzzle that has been hurting your head.

    As a bonus I looked up which batsmen Morkel has dismissed the most. I thought that would help cheer you up. Morkel dismissed Andrew Strauss & Mike Hussey 8 times, Cook & Ponting 6 times, KP 5 times, Dhoni & Dravid 4 times, Clarke, Bell, Sidle, Trott, Gayle, Gambhir, Vijay & a host of others 3 times, & from then the list gets soooo long I cant go thro them all, but amusingly he nailed Johnson twice.

    In 11 matches against Aus he has taken 38 wickets. I guess you don't watch much crickert, or follow it, because you would have known that Morkel has been knocking over Aussies since 2008. I guess that was a long time ago for you?

    Hopefully you'll catch up on modern cricket one day?

  • POSTED BY Django on | February 24, 2014, 19:34 GMT

    How many wickets did Johnson get in the second test?

  • POSTED BY Meety on | February 21, 2014, 2:25 GMT

    @ Greatest_Game on (February 20, 2014, 6:51 GMT) - so in other words, what you are saying is that Morkel got lucky 184 times? Must be the luckiest bowler to have ever played the game. :)

  • POSTED BY onelongsummer on | February 20, 2014, 9:05 GMT

    Django

    Johnson to Amla OUT LBW !! How do you do that only being able to bowl short ???

  • POSTED BY wijeya on | February 20, 2014, 8:58 GMT

    For all you armchair fans, this is why the modern day batsmen with their tree trunk bats these days are not half as good as the olden day batsmen who would have faced Johnson without a helmet on a pitch most modern day batsmen would refuse to bat on

  • POSTED BY Chris_P on | February 20, 2014, 7:55 GMT

    @Greatest_Game. Not sure why you waste your time responding to jonesy. He only posts for a reaction & never reads posts. He is our FFL & hello13, Cpt Meanster et al. As you no doubt have read, serious Aussie cricket followers have never begrudged your team's current status, which is attained over sustained form over a period time (home & away). We may have to disagree that we won't ever get back to #1, I personally believe we will get there a lot sooner than I was thinking a year ago, but the next 18 months will reveal more. Good to see test cricket stir up emotions so much, there is plenty to say about it.

  • POSTED BY Hammer-time on | February 20, 2014, 7:44 GMT

    The amount of negative posts against Australia and Johnson in particular on this site , especially by our Indian 'armchair experts' really makes you wonder if they actually watch cricket or just read the scores at the end of play . Still going on about beating us last year in India ... A team that was NOTHING like the squad at the moment. Aus is on a roll at the moment with a totally different mind set . You can see the confidence building in this TEAM . Team being the main thing , not a couple of individuals who preform every so often when conditions suit them like India have. Australia always look forward not back and are looking to make their own history . SA batting looks weak as water with Kallis not there and can`t see them making anywhere near 300 in any innings against us at the moment . With the batsman getting better every test they play it`s gonna be hard to see SA coming close to us .

  • POSTED BY Rahul_78 on | February 20, 2014, 7:22 GMT

    The BIG difference is this Mitch Version 2.0 is a nastiest beast in the park. Mitch is not out there to just take the wickets but he is after batsmen s blood in literal sense. A guy who can tonk someone like Amla who is one of the finest when it comes to test cricket flush on the grill can never be taken lightly. Smith is a proven performer and has nothing to prove but if he fails the Johnson test it will remain a black mark on his imperious record. It is up to Smith to set the tone and lead from the front. If he can counter Johnson threat it will go long way to instill the belief in his shaken and steered batsmen. Also dont forget that this SAF team is without their toughest Armour in Kallis. If this were a video game SAF will start with 25% less in their energy level. Time of seniors to stand up and be counted.

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | February 20, 2014, 7:01 GMT

    @ jonesy2 also wrote "Australia are the best team in the world and will be number 1 for the foreseeable 10-15 years at least, get used to it Graeme."

    Sorry, wrong again old chap. Don't they give you much access to the TV and the computer these days? I guess not. Must be tough missing out on cricket?

    SA are the no. 1 side, and Aus can win every match in this series and they won't catch up because they were sooooo bad, for sooooo long, that they are behind by several hundred country miles.

    Aus will be lucky to stay in the top 3. The world has moved on, & you were left behind. Really, if you did not know that Morkel had taken a test wicket, how much can you actually know about modern cricket, stuck in your room in that institution all day long. We will try to keep helping you as much as we can, but you will have to try to overcome the "Aussie Dominance" delusions you keep having. That ended years ago, and is not coming back.

    Keep on writing in & we will answer your questions as we can

  • POSTED BY Jagger on | February 20, 2014, 7:01 GMT

    @ Django - the title of this article probably got you a bit teary eyed and steamed up but to set the record straight do you know what a contradiction is? It's when you state something as fact and in one sentence and then discredit your own statement in the next. Logically, one sentence has much to be desired.

    I know you lot would love to write off the first Test thrashing at 'the fortress' as a minor aberration in an otherwise smooth sail from here on in, but I remind one and all that's what the Poms and many of you Saffers said about a weaker side back home before we won The Ashes 5-nil. Except the excuse that time was The 'Gabba is a fortress...

    As I write the largest betting exchange in the world has the draw as clear favourite, Australia and South Africa dead even, second.

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | February 20, 2014, 6:51 GMT

    @ jonesy2 - we know you have great difficulties with your special needs, so I researched your question "has morkel ever taken a test wicket? I seriously am not even sure."

    To date Morkel has taken 184 test wickets. I hope that answers your question & solves the muddled puzzle that has been hurting your head.

    As a bonus I looked up which batsmen Morkel has dismissed the most. I thought that would help cheer you up. Morkel dismissed Andrew Strauss & Mike Hussey 8 times, Cook & Ponting 6 times, KP 5 times, Dhoni & Dravid 4 times, Clarke, Bell, Sidle, Trott, Gayle, Gambhir, Vijay & a host of others 3 times, & from then the list gets soooo long I cant go thro them all, but amusingly he nailed Johnson twice.

    In 11 matches against Aus he has taken 38 wickets. I guess you don't watch much crickert, or follow it, because you would have known that Morkel has been knocking over Aussies since 2008. I guess that was a long time ago for you?

    Hopefully you'll catch up on modern cricket one day?

  • POSTED BY sachin_equal_to_bradman on | February 20, 2014, 6:03 GMT

    @pipsonian: Ha ha ha...Thanks for the entertainment mate!!! I think you are new to cricket boss!!! Just understand onething...Its the inability of these players to play good bowling so they try to slog and get out...This is what you call BRAVE BATTING???You Think batsmen from SA,IND,ENG,AUS are fools????Let these country batsmen tour to SA and get centuries or tour to aus and get centuries against Mitch then you talk

  • POSTED BY austentayshus on | February 20, 2014, 5:58 GMT

    By pipsonian "I think Mitch is overrated."

    Are you nuts ..

    Mitch was wayward untill certain "billy" showed up and gave him proper direction...

    And you are rating SL and Paki batsman to be able to face mitch in his current form dream on

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | February 20, 2014, 5:57 GMT

    @Django "just be prepared to take a few blows and you will be fine." Let me fix that for you... just be prepared to take a few blows and you will be concussed.

  • POSTED BY Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on | February 20, 2014, 5:17 GMT

    Feel sorry for the proteas. They are at the wrong place at the wrong time when a tempest known as Mitch is around.

  • POSTED BY wellrounded87 on | February 20, 2014, 4:55 GMT

    I love how people are still writing of MJ, he has now taken 49 wickets in his past 6 tests at an average of barely over 10. It's clear he has turned a rather large corner and is the top performing bowler in the world right now.

    @Django Harris is not 100% fit his knee is minced so he's nowhere near the threat he would normally be, assuming he makes it through the whole series he's scheduled in for surgery almost immediately which should tell you all you need to know about his ability to bowl at his best. This idea that Johnson is not a threat is absurd. You do not take 12 wickets in a match without being a serious threat let alone 49 wickets in 6 matches.

  • POSTED BY on | February 20, 2014, 4:53 GMT

    Johnson has taken 3 lots of 10 wickets in a game and has 12 bags of 5 bin an innings , hardly the stats of a man that can only bowl short. He is bowling express pace and bowling short forcing poor shots through terrible technique and fear. Its like saying Shane Warne was only a good bowler because he could spin the ball. Just foolish and as for Smith's head in the sand approach by not reviewing their last performances is absolutely astonishing. GOOD LUCK Saffers.

  • POSTED BY ww5995 on | February 20, 2014, 4:06 GMT

    Smith's scared.Jonners giving them the shakes.Smith will not make 20 runs in this test.Another 10+ wickets for MoJo.

  • POSTED BY Sandt on | February 20, 2014, 3:47 GMT

    It is surprise to see lot of people writing off SA after 1st test. Please note they are the No.1 side in tests and always play like that. Especially against AUS they bring their best always. And Smith is a fighter and will definitely come back in this test. Johnson is bowling in his best time of his career but one bad match can change his whole approach for loosing confidence. This was seen earlier also. All the best SA. World cricket needs you to come back strongly against arrogant AUS.

  • POSTED BY CustomKid on | February 20, 2014, 3:46 GMT

    @ Django, Mitch isn't a one trick pony I can assure you. He is bouncing guys out for sure but get some highlights of the recent ashes series and he's getting swing when the conditions offer it ask A Cook about Adelaide or Broad about Perth. In the 2008-9 series in ZA where he destroyed hand's, chins, etc he was getting swing and seam movement. If the conditions are on offer he'll exploit it. He's got a decent yorker and a very good slower ball which he needs to start utilizing more now he's hitting 150km plus. The other thing to remember is while MJ is getting the headlines, it's the classy support acts keeping it tight at the other end. They are just as important and allow MJ to strangle them out through pressure at the other end.

    I expect the Saffas to bounce back hard and this test to be a ripper. Come on Aussies let's seal the deal in this test.

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | February 20, 2014, 3:45 GMT

    I expect smith to forced into retirement in about 5 days time. mitch doesn't just hurt batsmen and get them out he ends the careers of the weak and the arrogant. go ahead and watch videos of you scoring runs against a Mitchell that isn't even close to the same player he is now, go ahead and look at videos of dale steyn getting spanked around like he has every time he has played Australia too go ahead and look at videos of morne morkel NEVER ever taking wickets ever, has morkel ever taken a test wicket? I seriously am not even sure. lets face it south Africa are just slightly less terrible version of England. I called it years ago and ill say it in this context, Australia are the best team in the world and will be number 1 for the foreseeable 10-15 years at least, get used to it Graeme.

  • POSTED BY Yorkersandbouncers on | February 20, 2014, 3:42 GMT

    @django

    "Of course, Mitchell Johnson is always there to scare the life out of batsmen. But that is the only thing he can do really. Have not seen any other special skills with the ball in hand."

    HAHA. The only thing he can do? Have not seen any other special skills? I think bowling at 150+ is a VERY special skill. In his past 6 matches he has picked up 49 wickets, so please don't go around saying he is ineffective.

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | February 20, 2014, 3:39 GMT

    hahaha battles!??? its not a battle! smith is a joke. if he had any pride and respect at all he would retire immediately. im embarrassed for him to be honest

  • POSTED BY chicko1983 on | February 20, 2014, 3:24 GMT

    SA are falling into the same trap as England did - assuming that Johnson cannot consistently bowl fierce and quick and that they should base their opinion of him from series between 2009 and 2011, when he was at his worst. If they had any sense, they would base their tactics and preparation of what they have seen in the last six Johnson tests and try to counteract that.

  • POSTED BY on | February 20, 2014, 3:23 GMT

    I'm not sure honours are even! A lot more blokes make tons than get their hands broken!

  • POSTED BY foozball on | February 20, 2014, 3:11 GMT

    @Django, I seem to recall everybody saying that about the Poms after the first Ashes test as well. Given they have (or at least had) a significant SA contingent, it will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow.

    Personally, I don't think it will matter who bats first. Day 1 might be statistically the best, but we saw what MJ thinks of ground stats at Centurion. If Australia bat first they will be tested, no doubt. But if SA bat first, they'll be tested out even more.

    Should be a good one!

  • POSTED BY foozball on | February 20, 2014, 3:07 GMT

    @pipsonian: 49 wickets over 6 tests is overrated? You are very hard to please!

    MJ doesn't *just* bang it short. He does it with accuracy, pace, and unpredictability. And he keeps on doing it. Over after over, innings after innings, match after match and now series after series.

    Smith can reconcile he's dealt with Johnson in the past if he wants to delude himself. Every commentator and player who's spent time watching him over the past 4-6 months will tell you he's a very different prospect to what he was before.

    Continue denying it Saffas, that worked so well for the Poms after all: 1 retirement, 1 sacking,1 drop and 1 indefinite absence. Pretty sobering, really.

  • POSTED BY on | February 20, 2014, 2:50 GMT

    @pipsonian Watch his 7-40 in Adelaide, the flattest pitch in Australia. Not one dismissal from a short ball. When the short bowling tactics work, obviously he persists with them. He's not restricted to just that particular tactic though, he can bowl however he likes.

  • POSTED BY AUZZIEDAN on | February 20, 2014, 2:33 GMT

    RSA surpporters , Mitch has more then just a bouncer, which I keep reading thats the only delivery he has. If the ball is swinging, he will have it going into the right hander. That's his best ball.Always has been.The bouncer is more effective to the left handers. Aus to win all three test

  • POSTED BY HatsforBats on | February 20, 2014, 2:29 GMT

    So, Smith has had two broken hands thanks to Johnson (one per 20 overs), and has been dismissed 7 times for an average of 27 (slightly better than half his career average) I'd say Johnson has quite the lead in that particular battle.

    @ Django, you're right in that Harris is brilliant. But you're dead wrong if you think bowling short is Johnson's only threat. On a placid Adelaide deck against Cook he pitched it full and watched it straighten down the line and knock back Cook's off stump at 150kph. Plus the numerous dismissals with late inswing against the right handers. He's not a one trick pony. And if you think Smith is sitting in the slips congratulating Aussie batsmen after they hit a boundary, well, you might be mistaken.

  • POSTED BY AussiePhoenix on | February 20, 2014, 2:28 GMT

    @ Mayan820 I agree, leading into the series I thought Oz would only win one game, because SA has such a strong team and record. Their determination to win is always evident and I NEVER doubt their courage, especially Smith. All Aussies remember the way he came out to bat in Sydney with a broken finger to save the test. Respected legend. However their stye of cricket, tactics, can be antiquated. Smith's comments about MJ show this. It is where the series will be won or lost, in leadership, aggression and savy gameplay. @ Django Correct, Ryano is the one to watch. He's had a slow start, but his presence will be seen, barring a knee blowout - which is always just one over away. To think MJ's only weapon is the bouncer is foolish, you haven't watched his other successes closely enough. And yes, our bile does flow freely when we get excited. Going to be a great game, both teams will be determined to win at all costs - the way cricket should be played.

  • POSTED BY Mr.CricketJKNotHussey on | February 20, 2014, 2:05 GMT

    @pipsonian Really? Johnson has the X-factor that no one else possesses, extreme pace. He doesn't just bowl short, he bowls it fast. A 150+ kph ball aimed at your head, even the best batsman will have problems. He has a late swinging delivery which at his pace can cause serious problems. He has lately been bowling short because it works, and the pitches he is playing on are conducive to it. He has improved his accuracy greatly. Morkel relies on short balls too, but he doesn't have Johnson's pace so he can;t do as much. And as for the batsmen you listed, SL's test team believes in playing out and choosing proper shots. WI and Pak have bad batting test sides. Pak only have Younis and Misbah. They do lay fearlessly, but they have yet to face this fired up Johnson. Even if they do play him life you suggest, it doesn't guarantee success. They will just hit out/get and edge and get out. Thus, Johnson deserves his hype.

  • POSTED BY TheBigBoodha on | February 20, 2014, 1:24 GMT

    Not that hard to work out what's going on here. Smith is annoyed by criticism for batting first and smirks that he did so because he's afraid of Johnson. I think that's why his recent comments have been terse and stubborn.

  • POSTED BY CrikiLeaks on | February 20, 2014, 1:16 GMT

    @Django - Do a search on Mitchell Johnsons Ashes wickets. There is quite a bit of skill on display. He has excellent late swing, it was part of armoury from very early on. @pipsonian - I would suggest the same to you but don't think your distorted view would allow you to process the information.

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | February 20, 2014, 1:03 GMT

    @pipsonian, courage is not enough against Johnson, (Monty Panesar showed plenty of that), you also need skill. And possibly a motorbike helmet.

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | February 20, 2014, 0:37 GMT

    "...We've had a general group discussion..." Yeah that'll work. I'm quite confident that SA will be able to 'walk the walk', back to the pavilion that is.

  • POSTED BY on | February 20, 2014, 0:30 GMT

    Those commenters claiming that Mitch only has a short ball and cant see that he is anything special need to engage brain before opening gob. Surely 49 wickets in 6 games at an average of 14 with a strike rate of less than 20 balls per wicket says there is something special going on. If you bothered to watch his dismissals there are plenty taken with balls pitched up and he is using the short ball superbly. He is in the middle of a once in a lifetime period of form and the longer he can sustain it the more likely Australia is to not only reach number 1 but retain it. Next year we have India in oz. That will be interesting! They lost 4-0 on their previous tour and the Aussie attack is far better this time with some very handy backup bowlers waiting in the wings. And India then had Tendulkar, laxmann and co and were expected to finally win a series in oz.

  • POSTED BY dinosaurus on | February 20, 2014, 0:27 GMT

    @Django

    Oh yes, they started well in Australia the last time they were there. Saved by rain in Brisbane and by a Faf marathon in Adelaide.

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | February 20, 2014, 0:16 GMT

    hmmm, broken hand or 100, it's a tough call for Smith to make.

  • POSTED BY David_Boon on | February 19, 2014, 23:41 GMT

    Hilarious! Smith faced 4 balls from Johnson in the first Test, and went out to two of them! Also I love all the comments about how all Mitch can do is bowl short - 60 odd wickets @12 in 6 games, no doubt all of them bouncers! He is the best in the world at present by a long way.

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | February 19, 2014, 23:36 GMT

    @Mayan820: I hate it when people talk about being 'scared' of a team. I couldn't care less whether they are scared of us or not, we can still beat them like we did in the first test. England claimed they weren't scared of Australia anymore, still lost.

  • POSTED BY lesamourai on | February 19, 2014, 23:27 GMT

    @Pipsonian You obviously don't watch test cricket (or are living in hope). Johnson took 37 wickets vs England in the Ashes and only a handful were from short balls. Most were bowled & lbw to searing yorkers, or caught behind off length balls.

  • POSTED BY Chris_Howard on | February 19, 2014, 22:54 GMT

    RSA twice scored 200 against Johnson and co in the first Test. If RSA bowled as well as they can and should, Australia would be lucky to make 200 themselves. And then it would be "game on".

  • POSTED BY ShutTheGate on | February 19, 2014, 22:11 GMT

    Apples and Oranges.

    Comparing MJ from 4 years ago to know probably won't do you much good. MJ now has a more refined action and release point, is more rhythmical in his run and follow through and is much stronger mentally.

    Keep telling yourself that you can beat the old MJ, the new will turn up and get you out before you realise.

  • POSTED BY iessua on | February 19, 2014, 22:09 GMT

    It is not just about fear, it is a question of skill. MJ is bowling fast and accurate, with good length and speed variations. I don't think KP was scared of MJ, but he could not execute his own batting plan. @Django, considering MJ has 49 wickets in the last 6 tests, his form tells you SA need to worry about him

  • POSTED BY satchander on | February 19, 2014, 21:08 GMT

    I don't think its a smart thing to go and watch video footage of matches where you have played well against Johnson and scored centuries. It would be prudent to instead watch the videos of the shots you got out to him and work out how to play him better next time around. Simith's current plan reminds me of Rafael Nadal in 2011.When asked before US Open 2011 Final about how he is going to beat his nemesis Djokovic who had beaten him in the last 5 successive matches, Nadal's reply was similar to Smith's - he said he is going to watch video footage of US Open 2010 when he beat Djokovic and will try to play like that. Needless to say Nadal went on to lose the US Open 2011 to Djokovic. So Smithy - don't go the Nadal way !!!

  • POSTED BY __PK on | February 19, 2014, 20:41 GMT

    Mayan820, I have no doubt SA will fight until the last ball. Let me know when they start.

  • POSTED BY ModernUmpiresPlz on | February 19, 2014, 18:30 GMT

    @pipsonian Sure you're not talking about Morne Morkel? Johnson has actually been swinging the ball as of late, not a lot, but at his pace it's deadly. Centurion is probably one of the least wicket threatening matches of bowling he's had lately because he wasn't getting any swing, but the SA top order did a good job of getting their gloves and bat handles in the way instead of just getting out of the way. Surely it's hard to judge if Johnson only has a short ball when guys are getting out to it before he's even bowled 2 overs to them.

  • POSTED BY Django on | February 19, 2014, 18:25 GMT

    @AussiePhoenix The thing is, you can use the same logic to say Smith was not playing at his best when Johnson got his wickets.

    With RSA, you can always bet your money on them losing the first test of a series, or at least coming very close to it. The only series they started really well in was they toured Australia and beat Australia at home. But that was really an exception to the norm. Come the second test, I think RSA will definitely play better. They are too good a team not to. For me, there really is only one guy to worry about in this Australian attack - and that is Ryan Harris, who I think is a brilliant bowler. Of course, Mitchell Johnson is always there to scare the life out of batsmen. But that is the only thing he can do really. Have not seen any other special skills with the ball in hand. Like AB mentioned during the first test, just be prepared to take a few blows and you will be fine. And learn to ignore the bile that constantly flows out of the Aussies' mouths.

  • POSTED BY pipsonian on | February 19, 2014, 18:05 GMT

    I think Mitch is overrated. The only thing he can do is bowl short and if SA can tackle that for the first few overs, that will definitely put him on the backfoot. If you have the courage to take on bowlers like Johnson, you have a huge chance of coming out on the top. This is where i like Pakistani, Sri Lankan and West Indian batsmen. They are brave even though they have poor techniques.

  • POSTED BY InsideHedge on | February 19, 2014, 18:04 GMT

    Interesting to follow the displayed link for Smith's dismissal stats. McGrath's record against Smith is a standout. Recently, Michael Holding was banging on about how fast bowlers put fear into batsmen. That's all well and dandy but when as a bowler, you've got an average of 6.50 against an opening batsmen, I reckon said batter is returning to the dressing room with plenty of fear - the fear of continuing failure. That's the worst kind of fear.

  • POSTED BY moshec on | February 19, 2014, 18:04 GMT

    Australia's win in the 1st test was not unexpected but the margin was. SA have a habit of starting home series badly and I expect them to play good cricket this time round. Here's hoping for the series still being alive going into Cape Town test.

  • POSTED BY Mayan820 on | February 19, 2014, 18:04 GMT

    AussiePhoenix . . . If your Ausie team ever win this series 3-0 they will have the battle scars to prove it! That is a promise I can give you as a Protea supporter. The Proteas fight until the last ball; they never give up. If you lot have not discovered it yet, it will soon become crystal clear to you . . . Neither G. Smith nor any of the other Proteas are scared of any Ausie player and most certainly not of M. Johnson. The more he terrorizes them, the more determined they will get to get the better of him. With regard to G. Smith, personally, M. Johnson can get him out for next to nothing for several innings to come, but this menace will never ever bowl G. Smith's determination out to keep the Protea team at the top of world cricket for as long as possible.

  • POSTED BY wapuser on | February 19, 2014, 18:01 GMT

    What a waste of time watching old footage of you making big scores. It's like studying for an exam but only reading the stuff you already know. You're not learning anything new, and the teacher might decide to ommit those questions. Rather, Smith should be looking at footage of where he went wrong and trying to figure out how to fixit. Meanwhile it's Johnson who should be watching Smith's big innings and seeing what it is he likes. I don't think he'll be giving Smith many of those cut shots the article talks about. If it's going to be short enough it will be a cramping delivery at the body

  • POSTED BY AussiePhoenix on | February 19, 2014, 17:24 GMT

    The thing is, the two games Smith 'won' against Johnson with centuries is when Mitch was not bowling well. He wasn't bowling well because coaches and management tried to turn him into something he wasn't. Now Mitch is getting the proper support to bowl the best he can. Simple. Meaning past hundreds count for nothing. Smith is going to look so bad when he loses this match, creating even more turmoil in the team, so Oz 3-0

  • POSTED BY ZCFOutkast on | February 19, 2014, 17:16 GMT

    Here's hoping that Smith is flored by a Mitch bouncer, and that his retirement is already set for the final Test of the series as we speak. Unfortunately odds are we'll be stuck with AB as captain, the enviable tactical genius of a sauroposeidon tackling cricket teams for the next 5 years! At least then we might have someone else to pick on other than poor Moyes!

  • POSTED BY R_U_4_REAL_NICK on | February 19, 2014, 16:39 GMT

    I'm guessing this article has been brought about by Smith's comments quoted in the preview, and peoples responses there-to. It's great that Smith is confident and not getting bogged down with the potential threat of one bowler; I just think that batsmen need to be especially careful of their boasting/mind-games because unlike the bowlers, they have ONE chance/life only per innings. I confess I'm biased towards bowlers in cricket, but if Smith comes out and dominates the Australian bowlers = great! What fantastic cricket that could still be. But best to let the bat do the talking and set an example Smithy; honours even at the moment, but if it all goes pear shaped game 2 doubters will be asking questions and pointing fingers again.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2014, 16:26 GMT

    Smith is averaging 27 with Johnson in the team, the score is far from "level". Clarke or any other captain would take a 27 average from Smith any day of the week.

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  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2014, 16:26 GMT

    Smith is averaging 27 with Johnson in the team, the score is far from "level". Clarke or any other captain would take a 27 average from Smith any day of the week.

  • POSTED BY R_U_4_REAL_NICK on | February 19, 2014, 16:39 GMT

    I'm guessing this article has been brought about by Smith's comments quoted in the preview, and peoples responses there-to. It's great that Smith is confident and not getting bogged down with the potential threat of one bowler; I just think that batsmen need to be especially careful of their boasting/mind-games because unlike the bowlers, they have ONE chance/life only per innings. I confess I'm biased towards bowlers in cricket, but if Smith comes out and dominates the Australian bowlers = great! What fantastic cricket that could still be. But best to let the bat do the talking and set an example Smithy; honours even at the moment, but if it all goes pear shaped game 2 doubters will be asking questions and pointing fingers again.

  • POSTED BY ZCFOutkast on | February 19, 2014, 17:16 GMT

    Here's hoping that Smith is flored by a Mitch bouncer, and that his retirement is already set for the final Test of the series as we speak. Unfortunately odds are we'll be stuck with AB as captain, the enviable tactical genius of a sauroposeidon tackling cricket teams for the next 5 years! At least then we might have someone else to pick on other than poor Moyes!

  • POSTED BY AussiePhoenix on | February 19, 2014, 17:24 GMT

    The thing is, the two games Smith 'won' against Johnson with centuries is when Mitch was not bowling well. He wasn't bowling well because coaches and management tried to turn him into something he wasn't. Now Mitch is getting the proper support to bowl the best he can. Simple. Meaning past hundreds count for nothing. Smith is going to look so bad when he loses this match, creating even more turmoil in the team, so Oz 3-0

  • POSTED BY wapuser on | February 19, 2014, 18:01 GMT

    What a waste of time watching old footage of you making big scores. It's like studying for an exam but only reading the stuff you already know. You're not learning anything new, and the teacher might decide to ommit those questions. Rather, Smith should be looking at footage of where he went wrong and trying to figure out how to fixit. Meanwhile it's Johnson who should be watching Smith's big innings and seeing what it is he likes. I don't think he'll be giving Smith many of those cut shots the article talks about. If it's going to be short enough it will be a cramping delivery at the body

  • POSTED BY Mayan820 on | February 19, 2014, 18:04 GMT

    AussiePhoenix . . . If your Ausie team ever win this series 3-0 they will have the battle scars to prove it! That is a promise I can give you as a Protea supporter. The Proteas fight until the last ball; they never give up. If you lot have not discovered it yet, it will soon become crystal clear to you . . . Neither G. Smith nor any of the other Proteas are scared of any Ausie player and most certainly not of M. Johnson. The more he terrorizes them, the more determined they will get to get the better of him. With regard to G. Smith, personally, M. Johnson can get him out for next to nothing for several innings to come, but this menace will never ever bowl G. Smith's determination out to keep the Protea team at the top of world cricket for as long as possible.

  • POSTED BY moshec on | February 19, 2014, 18:04 GMT

    Australia's win in the 1st test was not unexpected but the margin was. SA have a habit of starting home series badly and I expect them to play good cricket this time round. Here's hoping for the series still being alive going into Cape Town test.

  • POSTED BY InsideHedge on | February 19, 2014, 18:04 GMT

    Interesting to follow the displayed link for Smith's dismissal stats. McGrath's record against Smith is a standout. Recently, Michael Holding was banging on about how fast bowlers put fear into batsmen. That's all well and dandy but when as a bowler, you've got an average of 6.50 against an opening batsmen, I reckon said batter is returning to the dressing room with plenty of fear - the fear of continuing failure. That's the worst kind of fear.

  • POSTED BY pipsonian on | February 19, 2014, 18:05 GMT

    I think Mitch is overrated. The only thing he can do is bowl short and if SA can tackle that for the first few overs, that will definitely put him on the backfoot. If you have the courage to take on bowlers like Johnson, you have a huge chance of coming out on the top. This is where i like Pakistani, Sri Lankan and West Indian batsmen. They are brave even though they have poor techniques.

  • POSTED BY Django on | February 19, 2014, 18:25 GMT

    @AussiePhoenix The thing is, you can use the same logic to say Smith was not playing at his best when Johnson got his wickets.

    With RSA, you can always bet your money on them losing the first test of a series, or at least coming very close to it. The only series they started really well in was they toured Australia and beat Australia at home. But that was really an exception to the norm. Come the second test, I think RSA will definitely play better. They are too good a team not to. For me, there really is only one guy to worry about in this Australian attack - and that is Ryan Harris, who I think is a brilliant bowler. Of course, Mitchell Johnson is always there to scare the life out of batsmen. But that is the only thing he can do really. Have not seen any other special skills with the ball in hand. Like AB mentioned during the first test, just be prepared to take a few blows and you will be fine. And learn to ignore the bile that constantly flows out of the Aussies' mouths.