Pace showdown on the cards at Gabba
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Graeme Smith is fully conscious of the environment his No. 1-ranked team will face on Friday in the series-opening match against Australia, even if South Africa hasn't played a Test at the Gabba since 1963. With five of the world's top nine pacemen in action and with the top test ranking at stake, the three-match series is destined to be fast and furious.
Given it's a year since Australia was bowled out for a humiliating 47 in an eight-wicket defeat in Cape Town, and given the green tinge to the Gabba pitch and the constant banter this week about short-pitch bowling, the indications are it'll be difficult for the batsmen in Brisbane. "When you've got fast bowlers on either side, when you come to places like ... the Gabba, it's going to be a topic of discussion,'' Smith said.
Smith has a pace battery containing Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel, who're supplemented by veteran allrounder Jacques Kallis and spinner Imran Tahir in a well-balanced attack. Observers this week have reported Steyn has been bowling quicker in the nets than usual.
South Africa hasn't lost a series away from home since a 2-0 defeat at Sri Lanka in 2006 — including a 2-1 series win in Australia in 2008-09 —a point Smith was keen to underline as he shrugged off reports of an Australian dossier targeting flaws in each of his players that was leaked in the media on Thursday.
Australia does have some good intelligence on the opposition, particularly after appointing Mickey Arthur as coach. Smith said some comments by Arthur and some of the media reports this week just added to South Africa's motivation to win.
Dossier 'no secret'
You don't travel from 2006 and be unbeaten away from home if you don't have the capability to adapt, to think on your feet and if you don't have the skills,'' he said. In the so-called "Protea File" the Australians are reportedly set to target Hashim Amla in a "psychological war'' and have targeted Smith as susceptible to lbw dismissals. "I guess it's not that secret any more,'' Smith joked, adding that team's keeping profiles on other players wasn't exactly unusual.