SYDNEY - Much of the build-up to the first test between Australia and South Africa was hijacked by the Courier-Mail newspaper’s revelation on Thursday of a ‘secret dossier’ outlining the Australian team’s intended tactics against the Proteas.
Australian captain Michael Clarke admitted that the publication of the ‘dossier’ had surprised him and his teammates but that “much of it was common knowledge.”
He did admit, however, that some of the information contained in the analysis of each South African player’s strengths and weaknesses was “interesting.”
South African cricket supporters will almost certainly recognise the tone and style of the dossier. Former Proteas coach Mickey Arthur will now have to decide whether to chase the source of the ‘leak’ within his management squad, or whether to laugh it off and make light of what could be a serious embarrassment.
Below is the dossier as published by the News Limited Group on Thursday.
THE PROTEA FILES - THE TOP-SECRET DOSSIER
GRAEME SMITH (c)
STRENGTHS: When Smith plays well, South Africa plays well. He is the key to how South Africa goes. He is a really tough, hard man and knows his game inside out.
When in form, he moves beautifully and he can hurt you through the legside. He pulls really well, anything short he tries to pull and he has now got a very-well developed offside game as well.
VULNERABILITY: When Smith is not in form, his feet don’t move that much and he can be very susceptible to lbw. We should look to develop some doubts in his mind and get him lbw. While he has improved his offside game, he is still less proficient outside offstump.
STRENGTHS: He is a very solid player, on both the front and back foot. He has worked really hard and is mentally very strong. He is a good solid opening batter. He just goes about his business and he has a good technique.
VULNERABILITY: Is susceptible to the ball coming back in at him. We should look to bowl a few going away from him and then really look to get a good one coming back in at him. That’s where we should attack him.
STRENGTHS: A quality individual as well as a quality player. Amla has developed his strengths and through the legside he plays beautifully. He has now developed some good shots through the offside.
He scores a lot square of wicket, he hits the ball a lot squarer than most other batsmen because he is very wristy. He has exceptional wrists. He tends to drive square. He has improved out of sight and is a good guy with a great temperament.
VULNERABILITY: We should look to get into his head and play a bit of a psychological war. We should also look to attack him with short-pitched bowling, let’s really go after him with some short-pitched stuff.
STRENGTHS: A once in a generation player. Never gets the wraps he really deserves but a simply outstanding allrounder, who is great everywhere. With Jacques, you get two great players.
VULNERABILITY: We should look to revert to some short-pitched stuff and really test him out with that. Also, he has got such a high backlift he can get caught on his crease.
AB DE VILLIERS
STRENGTHS: An unbelievable player who scores all around wicket - has the potential to be best batsman in the world. He scores off the back and front and he can take us apart in a session.
VULNERABILITY: His batting has been deteriorating while he has been keeping wickets. Susceptible to the ball coming back into him, to trap him lbw. If he is scoring well, we should look to bowl wider to him to try to dry him up and he won’t like that at all.
STRENGTHS: A really good solid player. Left-hander who scores all around the wicket. A very competent batsman.
VULNERABILITY: Susceptible early to nicking out, caught behind or in slips. We should look to take the ball across him, slant it, and get him in the corridor nicking. Doesn’t like the ball swinging ball back into his pads.
STRENGTHS: A player who is all class. He scores well all around the wicket. He just looks so easy at the crease a lot of time, one of those guys that you watch and go ‘wow’. He drives beautifully and is a player that fans love to watch batting.
VULNERABILITY: He is another batsman we should look to take on with short-pitched bowling. We especially should look to get him pulling. He has an odd-sort of defensive pull, it is neither here nor there and it is an area we can get him.
VERNON PHILANDER STRENGTHS: He has been outstanding, a late bloomer. He is so accurate he makes you play almost every delivery and is a great weapon, working in conjunction with the other South African quicks.
VULNERABILITY: Our batsmen must look to bring him back for a third and fourth spell. We must keep him out there on good batting wickets. He has been great with new ball, but is pretty much untested coming back for third and fourth spells.