Brisbane: South Africa captain Graeme Smith has brushed off any impact of any potential psychological jabs the Australians may attempt on his team, as a result of a leaked dossier which highlighted individual plans for targeting the opposition batsmen.
On Wednesday, the Courier-Mail reported it had a two-page document which reveals a blueprint for targeting perceived weaknesses in each of the South Africa players, including a "psychological war" on Hashim Amla. However Smith, whose South Africa have not lost an overseas Test series in six years, did not see much reason to be perturbed.
"It doesn't really make a difference to be honest with you," Smith told reporters on the eve of the first Test at the Gabba. "We know in our minds what we're expecting over the next few days. The most important thing for us was our preparation. I think we've done that really well and we're looking forward to starting tomorrow. In terms of that stuff, it's neither here nor there, it's all going to start tomorrow."
South Africa famously beat Australia 2-1 on their last visit here to claim their first series win on Australian soil. Their then coach Mickey Arthur is now the coach of Australia, and Smith admitted that his recent comments about perceived South African weaknesses have driven the team to fight harder. "Certainly the stuff in the papers and maybe Mickey has said has only added motivation for us," Smith said. "They've certainly touched the motivation button."
Playing in Australia has always been tough for touring teams, and winning even tougher. In the last decade Australia have lost just two Test series at home – against South Africa in 2008-09 and England in 2010-11 – and drawn one against New Zealand last December. Having overseen that epic win four years ago, Smith knew what was expected to succeed in the country and took confidence from having beaten England in England recently to claim the No. 1 tag.
"When you play in other people's back yards, there's a different kind of pressure. You need to be able to handle different things. In recent memory in England, we were able to show that," he said.
"We were able to perform under pressure, we were able to stand up at key times. When good teams play each other, there's small margins. You need to be able to handle those small margins better than the other team if you are going to be victorious.
"Our goal is to match up again like we did in 2008 and 2009. I don't expect us to be too emotional about things, I think if we can be really focused and clinical in the next five days, I'll be happy."
After Brisbane, the series moves to Adelaide and Perth. South Africa need to only draw the series to retain their No. 1 Test tag.