Australia seamer Mitchell Starc has revealed he disagreed with captain Steve Smith’s plan to bowl to South Africa’s AB de Villiers at St George’s Park.
But Starc said he had no choice but to obey his skipper, who told him to deliberately send balls down the leg-side to the dangerous batsman in order to get him off the strike in the next over.
Starc’s last two balls in the 117th over in the Proteas’ first innings were all bowled just wide of leg-stump, with De Villiers unable to reach them.
‘I can’t say I was too happy with that either,’ Starc said when asked about the tactic.
‘Look, if the captain tells me to do something, I’m going to do it, aren’t I?’
De Villiers scored a majestic unbeaten 126 in the first innings, which helped the home side post a healthy lead, and ultimately go on to win by six wickets on day four.
The Australian bowlers have struggled against De Villiers, and Starc added they had to change their approach when bowling to him.
‘I think you’ve got to think outside the box a lot more with him. A good ball’s still a good ball to any batter in world cricket. It’s just bowling them more consistently, changing the field a little bit and maybe cutting off a couple of scoring areas for him as well,’ Starc said.
‘I think that’s one thing we didn’t do well enough to him in the first innings [in Port Elizabeth]. We didn’t bowl enough good balls to him.
‘He’s allowed to play good cricket shots, but I think we didn’t bowl that really good balls consistently enough to him to build a bit of extra pressure on him and make him play the false shot.
‘It’s something we’ve spoken about as a bowling group and as a team moving forward in this series and hopefully, that starts in Cape Town and we can get him out fairly cheaply,’ he said.
The third Test at Newlands in Cape Town begins next Friday and both sides will be looking to take a 2-1 lead in the four-match series.
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