Boof backs captain's call for more mongrel

22 September 2016

Aussie coach expects loud and aggressive outfit against the Proteas

In the wake of Steve Smith’s rallying cry for his Test teammates to find their voices and defiantly puff out their chests, coach Darren Lehmann has foreshadowed a far more vocal performance in the upcoming five match ODI series against South Africa.

Not just because Australia’s limited-overs personnel are by nature a more demonstrative group, but also due to the often ferocious nature of battles between the reigning world champions and their fierce Proteas rivals.

Smith made his observation shortly before the Australians departed for their month-long Qantas ODI Tour to South Africa this week, and not long after his Test side was humbled 0-3 by Sri Lanka and forfeited their hold on the world’s number one Test ranking. 

Marsh steps up pace game against Proteas

As a result, the skipper identified a drop in on-field energy and intensity as one of the factors that blighted that campaign, especially at crucial stages of matches when luck was running against the tourists and their spirits began to ebb.

"We've got some pretty quiet characters, so even if it's not making noise verbally it might be just about having a bit more presence," Smith said in Sydney this week before flying to Johannesburg.

"And the old Australian way of puffing your chest out and making your presence felt for the quieter guys.

"It's trying to do that, get into the game that way and try to provide some sort of energy that way."

If Smith was searching for an example of how that more confrontational manner can ultimately prove effective, he need only cast his mind back to Australia’s most recent Test tour to South Africa in 2014.

When, on the tense final day at Cape Town with the bitter-fought three-match series level at 1-1 and the world’s top Test ranking again on the line, the Australians went hard at their foes who were furiously stonewalling to stave off defeat and defend their number one billing.

A day that saw South Africa’s Faf du Plessis subjected to regular snarling and barking after he had earlier in the match accused the Australians of reacting “like a pack of wild dogs” when he reached down and picked up the ball during his team’s first innings.

Culminating in a sustained spray of dog noises when Smith himself eventually dismissed du Plessis to edge Australia closer to victory.

A day that also hosted an ugly verbal spat involving Australia’s then captain Michael Clarke and South Africa’s current fast bowling spearhead Dale Steyn, an incident that resulted in a feud between the pair that simmered publicly for more than a year.

And which ultimately saw Australia claim a famous victory in the shadows of stumps on day five when Ryan Harris – travelling with the current ODI squad as a bowling coach - produced a super-human physical effort to claim a pair of wickets in his final over. 

Highlights: Australia win a thriller

It was that sort of Test match intensity that Smith has referring to, and which earned the full endorsement of his coach when the pair fronted a media conference in Johannesburg yesterday ahead of the ODIs against South Africa (and one against Ireland at Benoni next Tuesday).

"I think Steve hit it right on the head, and it’s more so in the Test match arena," Lehmann said of his captain’s call for some of his senior teammates to establish a bit more of a presence on the field of battle.

"The one-day guys are pretty vocal and I think it will be a pretty fiery series.

"One of the great things about these two countries is they play it really hard on the field but get on really well off it.

"So I don’t think the noise will be an issue in this series, for both sides."

Meg Lanning Steve Smith

About the Writer


Andrew Ramsey is the senior writer for He previously wrote for the Guardian, The Australian, The Times, The Telegraph, The Hindu and Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and the author of The Wrong Line.

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