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South Africa must put aside fear of playing Mitchell Johnson, says AB de Villiers

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AB De Villiers was the only South African batsman who looked comfortable against Mitchell Johnson © Getty Images

Feb 16, 2014

After Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson destroyed South Africa with his fearsome pace bowling in the 281- run win over the Proteas in the first Test at Centurion, AB de Villiers has said that his side must now put their bodies on the line if they ever have to halt the left-arm bowler in the remaining two Test matches.

De Villiers looked like the only South African batsman who could play Johnson with comfort as he scored 91 and 48 in the first and second innings respectively in the ruins that was the South African batting, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Johnson proved to be too quick for the South Africans and apart from de Villiers the other batsmen like Graeme Smith, Faf du Plessis and Robin Peterson collapsed in front of some fearful pace bowling by the Australian.

Australia’s David Warner who scored a fantastic 115 in the second innings had this to say of Johnson:” It’s easy for me to comment, sitting at gully and facing Mitch in the nets then walking out after a couple of balls. With his pace and accuracy at the moment, he’s at the top of his game and he’s definitely going to be hard to stop. He’s got two Tests and another innings to go, then he gets a well-earned break. ‘He’s on top of his game, bowling real fast – and they’ve got to find a way to counteract that.”

De Villiers who also urged his team-mates to put their fear of facing Johnson aside said that the main strategy in facing the quickie was to watch the ball closely, get into a good position and trust your instinct.

“You can’t show weakness … you’ve got to be prepared to get hurt. Once you don’t have that fear of getting hurt, then I feel you play a lot better. Most of the time you get yourself out. He doesn’t really bowl you a peach of a delivery. You’ve just got to fight it through,” said de Villiers who feels that his team-mates may have to sometimes put their bodies on line while facing Johnson.

De Villiers who also feels that Johnson is building up on the momentum that he gained after Australia’s 5-0 Ashes humiliation of England recently added,” Anything that came off the glove went to hand. I can’t count the times some of their batters hit the gloves and the bats and gone just over the slips cordon and the keeper; [Shaun] Marsh in the first innings through the point and gully area. That’s what happens; when you’re behind the eight ball and one team’s got confidence and momentum, things like that seem to happen a lot easier for them and the bowlers look more skilful, they look fitter.”

For the record after his seven-wicket haul in the first innings, Johnson became Australia’s seventh highest wicket takers in Tests with 249 wickets in 57 matches and moved ahead of Richie Benaud and Graham McKenzie in Australia’s all time wicket takers list.

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