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Gary ‘grateful’ to Mickey

- South African players believe in their abilities, says Kirsten
Gary Kirsten in Brisbane, on Wednesday

Johannesburg: South Africa cricket coach Gary Kirsten has said that negative remarks by his Australian counterpart, Mickey Arthur, will only serve as a motivation to his team during the tour of Australia.

Arthur, a former South Africa coach, told the Australian media that Dale Steyn, despite being the leading Test bowler in the world, was less effective against left-handed batsmen.

“Put it this way: we will use Arthur’s outburst as extra motivation for Dale (Steyn),” Kirsten told Afrikaans daily Beeld on Wednesday.

Kirsten said Steyn would do his best to prove Arthur wrong when he leads the attack in the first Test at the Gabba, starting on Friday with what has been described by some as the best in the world.

Kirsten, however, said that he would not like to make comparisons.

“There have been many Test attacks in the past 100 years and I don’t want to make such comparisons. Our attack certainly comes from great experience, and the most important thing of all is that the players believe in their abilities,” said Kirsten.

He also warned against underestimating the contribution spinner Imran Tahir. “A lot will depend on the pitch conditions waiting for us, but a spinner always plays an important role in any Test. Every coach would like to have a spinner of quality and Imran gives me that option,” Kirsten said.

The coach said that his side had already looked at the possible weaknesses in the Australian line-up, just as they would also have done with any other visitor. “Any player can score runs in a Test and we must ensure that we bowl decently — irrespective of who is on the other side of the pitch,” insisted Kirsten.

Meanwhile, reports in Australian media also claimed that a leaked dossier of Michael Clarke’s game-plans revealed that that the hosts will target Hashim Amla with verbal aggression and engage him in a “psychological war”.

The leaked document contains Australia’s ‘secret’ plans to combat each of South Africa’s players, including peppering Jacques Kallis with bouncers and going after the leg-spinner Tahir.

The document mentions Australia’s intent to send down plenty of short balls to Amla, who is the No.2 Test batsman in the world. In fact, Amla was one of South Africa’s strongest performers in the two-match series against Australia last year, with a tally of 239 runs at 59.75.

However, a website claimed that former captain Ricky Ponting has said that there’s no pre-conceived plans to sledge, but added that in the heat of the battle for the No.1 Test ranking, things might get verbal at some point.