Ball Control can exclusively reveal that South Africa will target old laggards Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey as the weak links in Australia’s batting line-up, according to a top secret dossier in our possession. The plans, personally drawn up by Head Coach Gary Kirsten, are a comprehensive strategy to combat opposition players’ weaknesses, and nullify their strengths, in the upcoming three-Test series.
Among the many startling revelations is that Shane Watson can be unsettled early in a series if he is denied unfettered access to full-length mirrors in the changing rooms, while Imran Tahir’s bowling tactics against the captain Michael Clarke revolve around wearing a Simon Katich mask and singing the Australian team song during his run-up.
Ricky Ponting, coming off a successful calendar year in which he averages 63 in Tests, is said to be vulnerable to substitute fielding and by having his past captaincy ability compared to all Australian captains before 2004 and after 2010. The dossier intriguingly adds for emphasis that this comparison includes “that whole embarrassing Kim Hughes period”. Ponting’s co-veteran in the middle order, Mike Hussey, is also reserved for special attention in the dossier; noting the acute dry skin areas below his eyes, requiring almost constant application of industrial-grade zinc.
Of Australia’s vaunted bowling attack, the South Africans have clearly closely analysed their many and varied strengths. As one of the newer members of the pack, Nathan Lyon has not gone unnoticed for his talent to make older team members look far younger than they are. The depth of analysis in the dossier is hinted at as it suggests that 68-year old chairman of selectors John Inverarity personally trumpets the selection of Lyon as he enjoys the company of a man who shares his interests in stamp collecting and listening to gramophone records.
Peter Siddle has developed many attributes in the past 18 months and can lay claim to being the most improved international bowler over that period. After undergoing a remedial winter program with renowned primate expert Jane Goodall, Siddle has added the ability to count to six to his impressive armoury; a skill he has successfully employed to keep track of the number of legitimate balls delivered in an over. This new skill has impressed Kirsten, who has devised a cunning strategy: “to confound Siddle the non-striker should blurt out random numbers as the bowler passing upon returning to his mark, thereby flummoxing the great lug and causing extreme mental disintegration.”
The one man in the Australian set-up singled out as immune to efforts of being undermined by opposition tactics is Head Coach Mickey Arthur: “a man with no discernible weakness, whose vast array of strengths are unshakeable due to his Afrikaans purity”.