Australia’s bowlers are planning to change tactics in targeting AB de Villiers, the standout batsman of the series.
Josh Hazlewood believes that the much-vaunted pace attack will need to tie him down, rather than go for the shock strike in the hope of getting him out quickly. That leads to them losing their discipline, a factor which De Villiers is quick to exploit, averaging 112 across the two Tests.
Mitchell Starc, Hazlewood’s new-ball partner, conceded last week that the pair, along with fellow quick Pat Cummins and off-spinner Nathan Lyon, have been discussing some updated plans for De Villiers.
‘We obviously struggled a bit so far,’ said Hazlewood in an interview before the Australians return to training on Monday at Newlands. ‘He’s just gotten off the mark and got to 20 or 30 runs quite easily, and we’ve probably gifted that to him a little bit.
‘We just need to start better against him and treat him like any other player, and bowl good balls more often than not.
‘You’ve got to put his shot selection out of your head and just concentrate on what you’re doing, and where you’re bowling. If he plays a good shot off a good ball, then fair enough but you don’t want him hitting your bad balls.
‘You want to be putting it in the right areas more often than not.’
Given that one of the most powerful weapons in the Australians’ arsenal is their verbal barrage, De Villiers can expect to face a lot of short-pitched comments.
Hazlewood believes that they have the variety in their attack to cope with any wicket that Newlands offers, when the third Test starts on Thursday.
‘They might leave some grass on it for Vernon Philander, who is pretty good in Cape Town most of the time,’ he said. ‘I’d be pretty happy – anything with a bit of grass is always good.
‘But big Mitch [Starc] is actually a very good flat-wicket bowler. He seems to take big wickets on those sort of tracks, and Patty [Cummins] has got a great bouncer and then good pace.
‘So I think we’re a pretty well-rounded group, and we can tailor our skill sets to different wickets.’
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