Arthur surprised by Aussie panic

MELBOURNE - Proteas coach Mickey Arthur has admitted he was surprised at the way in which the Australian selectors have responded to the South Africans' six-wicket victory in Perth.

MELBOURNE - Proteas coach Mickey Arthur has admitted he was surprised at the way in which the Australian selectors have responded to the South Africans' six-wicket victory in Perth.

"It has been a little surprising but at the end of the day we've been on that side of the scale before," said Arthur. "When you lose there is a lot of panic generated by the media and public."

Asked whether he thought the Australians were in panic mode, Arthur reverted to a diplomatic forward prod, saying that he didn't believe so. He briefly watched them train yesterday, he said, and thought their body language was good.

The Australians have added Ben Hilfenhaus (a fast-bowler) and Nathan Hauritz (an off-spinner) to their 13-man squad for the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

The fact that the Australians are clearly unsure of the make-up of their bowling attack for the Test is generally good for the visitors.

Arthur also said later in the press conference that he sensed some uncertainty in the Aussie camp over Brett Lee's role, particularly with Stuart Clark not having played in Perth due to an elbow injury.

You sense, though, that all of this is pre-Test frippery, tasty titbits prior to - to coin a Christmas phrase - the roast turkey.

The South Africans are in a "good space" and because they were drained by the Perth Test they were given the entire day off yesterday.

In stark contrast, the Australians practised yesterday morning in the MCG nets, while the South Africans played golf or bought Christmas presents, Arthur's shopping assignment in this regard being particularly onerous because he has three daughters and wife to buy presents for.

As far as the South African injury concerns and niggles are concerned Arthur said that Smith had another jab in his elbow yesterday but wouldn't be in jeopardy for either the Melbourne or Sydney Tests, the last two in the series.

"Ashwell [Prince] is making very good progress," he added, though the rider to this was that after yesterday's second x-ray to determine the speed of his recovery from a fractured thumb, he would need to bat in the nets today to see how he was coming along. - Avusa Cricket Correspondent

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