AUSTRALIA’S cricketers are pledging to keep sledging South Africa in a bid to steal their mantle as the world’s best Test side.
But as evergreen batsman Mike Hussey signals more verbal attacks in the second Test in Adelaide, Proteas linchpin AB De Villiers says the Australians are kidding themselves if they think it will help them.
“They thought so in 2008 as well and it didn’t really happen that way,” De Villiers told reporters on Sunday.
“So hopefully we can prove them wrong again.”
Hussey said the Australians would again adopt an aggressive approach following the drawn series opener in Brisbane.
“It’s part of the game,” Hussey told reporters on Sunday.
“Once you get out in the middle and emotions start to rise, it’s good for the game to see a bit of competitive spirit out there between the two teams.”
However, aggressive paceman James Pattinson has said that Australia’s crickets don’t go in with a plan to sledge, it just comes naturally.
“It’s not really spoken much about in the inner sanctum of the team,” Pattinson told reporters on Monday.
“It’s just one of those things that happens when you get out there.
“If you can see a way in by sledging someone when you’re out there then definitely, by all means it’s probably a good thing.
“But one thing we don’t do is purposely go out there and say we’re going to get in the ear of this batsman or that batsman.”
Pattinson said his sledging of Proteas captain Graeme Smith in the drawn series opener in Brisbane wasn’t premeditated.
The fast bowler claimed Smith’s wicket in the second innings after a sustained verbal attack.
“I don’t know whether it was the sledging because Smith is a pretty cool customer and has been around for quite a while, whether it was just good bowling or whether it was something else,” he said ahead of the second Test in Adelaide starting Thursday.
“The one thing going into Brisbane, we didn’t have a plan to go out there and give them stuff.
“When you go out there and purposely try and do stuff like that, then sometimes it does backfire. It’s all about reading the conditions, reading what is happening in the game and then going from there.”
Pattinson claimed five wickets in the Brisbane Test from 53 overs, with no Australian bowling more in the match.
Hussey dismissed suggestions Australia stole momentum from South Africa by finishing stronger at the Gabba.
He drew a warning from the Ashes series against England two years ago, when a drawn first Test in Brisbane was followed by an Australian loss in the second match in Adelaide, when the Australians lost three wickets in the initial half an hour.
“I think what has happened in Brisbane has gone and it doesn’t really matter,” said Hussey.
“What matters is that first hour, that first half an hour of this Test match.
“We have got to start better than we did a couple of years ago against England.”
Hussey admitted he was uncertain whether sledging had an impact on the Proteas.
“A lot of players in the past have used it as a mental battle against batsmen and it has probably worked in the past as well,” he said.
“But whether it works on these individual South Africans batsmen, I don’t know.
“They have shown that they have been a great team for quite a period of time now – they don’t get to No.1 in the world without enduring these sorts of things before.
“But as I said, once you get over that white line and the competitive spirit between bat and ball starts, there is always going to be things that are said.
“But as long as it doesn’t go too far and players cross the line, then I think it’s fine, it’s no worries.”
De Villiers said the South Africans accepted they would be sledged by the Australians, and would return verbal fire.
“There is always a bit of chat around,” De Villiers said.
“It’s obviously two very good teams that want to win the game so you do whatever you can to get a few wickets.
” … It’s a matter of playing the big moments better than the opposing side and whatever you can do to get an edge over the opposing team, you will go through with.”
The Australians arrived in Adelaide on Sunday with ongoing concern about vice-captain Shane Watson’s calf injury after he missed the first Test.
Watson was named in a 13-man squad and trained with the Australians on Monday in a bid to prove his fitness. – AAP