Tips in leaked dossier 'common knowledge', says Clarke
Australia captain Michael Clarke has described as "common knowledge" the details of the tip sheet on South Africa's players released on the eve of the first Test at the Gabba.
A leaked dossier contained sections on every Proteas player, listing each one's strengths and weaknesses. It encouraged Australia's fast bowlers to pepper the opposition top order with short-pitched deliveries, "get into the head" of batsman Hashim Amla and make world No.1 paceman Dale Steyn bowl as much as possible to left-handers.
When asked about the document on Thursday Clarke said: "Well there was certainly information in there that is common knowledge we're aware of. There was some other stuff in there that was, like I say, quite an interesting read. But at the end of the day we have plans for every opposition we play against and it's no different against South Africa."
Brains trust ... Michael Clarke and Australia coach Mickey Arthur at The Gabba. Photo: Getty Images
He denied knowledge that the material, which was published by News Ltd, had been leaked by the Australian hierarchy in a psychological ploy against the top-rated South Africans. "No. I can only talk from my behalf. Not that I know of, no," he said. "We as a team don't have an official dossier, like you say as such. We look at footage, we talk about opposition players, we study opposition's strengths and weaknesses as a bowling group and a batting group. That's what we do as a team.
"Like I say there was some stuff in there that is common knowledge about the South African team, there was some other stuff in there that we certainly haven't spoken about."
The Test captain played down the relevance of the tip sheet's publication on the first Test and the series. "I think both teams would have read the papers, that's for sure, that's what we do," he said. "The most important thing for me, and I've said it for a long time now, it's not about what you say it's about what you do. That's the Australian team's attitude at the moment. The series has been built up beautifully, now it's about what we do."
Among the advice contained was to keep the Proteas' fast bowler Vernon Philander in the field for as long as possible, ensuring he must cope with third and fourth spells. Clarke did not dispute that was the way they would try and combat Philander, who has 63 wickets at 16 in 10 Tests.
"Certainly the hardest time to bat is against the bowlers' first spell," Clarke said. "The longer they're out in the field, the heavier your legs become. As a batting group yes, we're really keen to spend as much time in the middle as possible."
He also agreed the Australian pace line-up - which could be four-pronged if he leaves out spinner Nathan Lyon - would bowl short with regularity in an effort to get under the skin of Amla, Jacques Kallis and JP Duminy in particular.
"I wouldn't be surprised if you see plenty of short stuff, that's for sure," Clarke said. "You've got four guys that bowl well and truly over 140kmh, they're not shy on bouncers whether they be in the centre or in the nets. The young quicks know what they have to do. They know how important it is that they execute their skills but I've made it very clear that they need to keep the same aggression they had last summer against India. We understand there is a line that you can't cross but we'll be pushing that line."