Sport Cricket ‘Pitch to blame for Johnson’s 12 wicket haul’

‘Pitch to blame for Johnson’s 12 wicket haul’

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South African captain Graeme Smith expects his side will be better equipped to negotiate Mitchell Johnson’s shock-and-awe assault in the second Test.

Johnson recorded career-best Test match figures of 12-127 on Saturday when the Proteas yielded tamely in the opening bout of the three-Test series.

Smith downplayed the need for video sessions or technique tweaks, saying a bouncy Centurion pitch was what made the Australian unplayable in both innings.

“I truly believe that the wicket played a big role in the success that he had,” Smith said.

“He was able to extract every bit of life and uncertainty out of that wicket which, in turn, put us under an immense amount of pressure.

“Credit to him for the way he performed … (but) I think our game plans and mindsets are good.

“It’s not long ago that we can think back to big moments in games where we’ve been able to put him under pressure.

“The key for us now is that as a top order we set some big partnerships.”

Opposing captain Michael Clarke agreed conditions played a factor in the one-sided clash.

“(Declaring after 3.2 overs on Saturday) certainly wasn’t the plan when I walked out to bat today, but I saw enough in that wicket to think it was going to be quite dangerous to bat on,” Clarke said.

Smith also took a swipe at the legitimacy of Johnson’s recent record – 49 Test wickets at an average of 13.14 since the start of the Ashes.

“The stats, even in the Ashes, say that he picked up a lot of lower-order wickets.”

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