Psychological battle

2014-02-04 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — “Thank you Michael Clarke, thank you very much.”

Graeme Smith yesterday thanked his Australian counterpart at the Wanderers for the way in which he has motivated Smith’s bowlers prior to the first Test in the three match series which starts at Supersport Park in Centurion next Wednesday.

Smith’s gratitude followed after Clarke — in no uncertain terms — made it clear that he was convinced he has the best bowling attack in the world.

“By now we have learnt from the Aussies that you have to sift between the straws they are talking. We are used to prior to a series of their strategy to say all kinds of things in an effort to unnerve you and deviate your focus from the game,” said Smith.

“For us it is necessary to remain modest and not to get caught up in their psychological games,” he added.

“We play the game in a respectful manner. We know it will be an intense series against a very good opponent. We will show the Aussies respect but will not be intimidated by their tactics,” he said.

“I have a lot of respect for Michael [Clarke] as a player and captain. He is an excellent cricket player,” said Smith.

He also added that they would try to expose any weaknesses in the Aussies’ armour.

There is a feeling that their batting line-up may be suspect.

“We will have to see who they will use to fill George Bailey’s place. They have Alex Doolan but also some other contenders to consider.”

Smith said the series is important to the public for a number of reasons.

His team may also be motivated to beat the Aussies after it became clear recently that Australia, India and England want to control world cricket.

“However, we only want to focus on things that we can manage. There are many things happening off the field, which we as players cannot control. We just have to trust our administrators to make the best decisions which will be in everyone’s interest,” said Smith.

Jacques Kallis will be replaced by the player who will best fit the conditions of each Test match, he said. “I would also like to see that whoever gets the nod, will grab that opportunity to stake a claim on a permanent position in the team.

“It is a huge loss not to have Jacques in the team but we must not allow it to become something negative. As a cricket nation we have to be proud of what he [Kallis] had accomplished but also assist the player who will succeed him to become as effective.

“A series against Australia is always a big one and this will be a unique challenge,” said Smith, who agrees with Clarke that it will not be an easy series for their respective bowlers.

The invitational team that was meant to play in the cancelled warm-up match against South Africa at Potchefstroom, included four players from the SA squad that have not made the team, including the Lions’ Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock, Simon Harmer of the Warriors, the Cobras’ Beuran Hendricks and Stiaan van Zyl, and Reeza Hendricks and Rilee Rossouw of the Knights.

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