Brisbane: Australia captain Michael Clarke has played down the significance of the so-called "Protea Files" leaked in the domestic media a day ahead of the series-opening Test against South Africa.
The Courier-Mail newspaper reported Thursday it had obtained a two-page dossier revealing Australia's blueprint for targeting perceived weaknesses in each of the South Africa players, including a "psychological war" on top-order batsman Hashim Amla.
Clarke said the Australian team didn't create the document, adding "there's certainly information in there that is common knowledge."
"We as a team do not have an official dossier ... We look at footage, we talk about opposition players, we study opposition strengths and weaknesses," he said. "But the most important thing for me is not what you say it's about what you do.
"There's been enough said in the media and the series has been built up beautifully, two very strong cricket teams, now it's about what we do."
It's the second time in a dozen years that what have been reported as internal team documents have hit the news pages — former coach John Buchanan created a stir when he accidentally slipped plans targeting the New Zealand team under the wrong door at the team hotel in 2000.
Clarke rejected the suggestion that any information was deliberately leaked this time by the team or management as a psychological ploy against the top-ranked South Africans.
Australia are coached by South African Mickey Arthur, who will be in charge of a team against the Proteas for the first time, having overseen his national team between 2005 and 2010, highlighted by a series win in Australia on their previous tour.
South Africa captain Graeme Smith saw the funny side of the story, saying profiling opposition players is nothing new.
"I guess it's not that secret any more," he said. "We try to keep it in the guys' heads as much as possible so dossiers aren't left lying around!"
Besides, he said there was nothing new in the content_cns of the reports.
"Nothing we didn't expect," he said. "All of us have played enough against Australia, we know what it's going to take to be victorious here.
"Our preparation has been really clinical and intelligent."
South Africa only need to draw the three-match series to retain the No. 1 ranking.
The lengthy two-page "Protea Files" blueprint reveals the Australians will:
* Look to get into Amla's head "and play a bit of a psychological war" with the world's best batsman. The Aussies will also attack him with a short-pitched barrage;
*Ramp up the pressure on novice Test spinner Tahir in the belief he "can be very impatient with his bowling and it leads to him being expensive." The dossier says there is no way Tahir will be able to dry up an end, like accurate former South African spinner Paul Harris;
*Seek to exploit doubts in the mind of hard-edged Proteas skipper Graeme Smith by trapping him on the crease and dismissing him lbw;
*Test the staying power of fast bowler Vernon Philander, who has been good with the new ball but is "pretty much untested coming back for third and fourth spells";
*Bat aggressively against towering South African quick Morne Morkel, who the Australians believe can be inconsistent, with the dossier saying: "We want to put him off his game by scoring on both sides of the wicket";
*Aim to "really test" Jacques Kallis out with a bumper onslaught - and the Aussies are also very aware of his high batting backlift.
The Courier-Mail's discovery of the Australian game plan, will light the fuse for an intriguing and hostile battle this summer as Australia try to regain their former No.1 Test ranking.
It is one thing knowing what your opponent is going to try to do, but it is quite another thing trying to counter their plans and from not allowing them to mentally destroy you.
More the Proteas Plan - The full dossier right here:
It is not known who constructed the current Australian team game plan. The Australian team refused to comment last night but did not deny the veracity of the dossier.
Former Test skipper Ricky Ponting yesterday spoke generically about bouncing the South African top-order but the dossier reveals Kallis, Amla, and JP Duminy are specifically the batsmen who will be bounced.
There are also well-laid plans for lesser-known South African players such as opening batsman Alviro Petersen, with the Aussies planning to befuddle him by swinging the ball away and then dismissing him with an inswinger.
AB de Villiers, who has taken over the Test wicketkeeping since the retirement of Mark Boucher, has consistently denied his wicketkeeping responsibilities are affecting his batting.
The Australians think otherwise.
They rate de Villiers as being a batsman who "has the potential to be the best in the world" yet they feel his "batting has been deteriorating while he has been keeping wickets".
JP Duminy scored big runs on South Africa's last tour here but the Australians feel they can get him out pulling, with the dossier revealing "he has an odd sort of defensive pull, it is neither here nor there".
I guess it's not that secret any more. Nothing really new.