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The Port Elizabeth pitch curator admits he s awaiting instructions on what to do with the strip.
AAP The Port Elizabeth pitch curator admits he's awaiting instructions on what to do with the strip.

Michael Clarke was diplomatic as the divisive issue of pitch doctoring reared its head, while Graeme Smith denied he held sway over the curator for the second Test in South Africa.

Shane Watson is expected to remain sidelined as Australia take an unchanged XI into the match at Port Elizabeth, which will start on Thursday.

It is understood Proteas coach Russell Domingo was disappointed with the bouncy Centurion surface for the first Test, which Mitchell Johnson took advantage of to claim career-best match figures of 12 for 127 and guide Australia to a 281-run victory.

Another defeat for the Proteas would trigger the ignominy of the nation's first Test series loss since 2009, leading to claims St George's Park curator Adrian Carter was being controlled by Domingo and Smith.

"I had a chat to the groundsman. At the moment the grass is 8mm high," Michael Clarke said on Tuesday of the strip.

"He said he's going to speak to their captain and coach before he makes a decision (on what to do with the grass).

"Hopefully it does (stay as is).

"If the wicket stays like it is today it will be a three-dayer, especially with two fantastic bowling attacks."

Carter confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that he had thoughts on what to do with a "furry and green" surface that scared him, but would not act without Domingo and Smith's approval.

Smith, Domingo and his assistant coaches inspected the pitch and had lengthy discussions with Carter before South Africa started training on Tuesday.

Smith rejected claims they made any demands.

"One thing I've learned is that when you ask for things you generally don't get them," he said.

"We just requested a good Test wicket."

Clarke was not keen to cry foul about Carter's apparent lack of independence."It doesn't bother me, that's a big part of playing international cricket," the Australia captain said."It's a big part of our game that the captain, especially, can communicate with the groundsman in his home country and produce the wicket that is best suited to their team."Carter will find it hard to create a strip that makes Johnson easy to play."Slow wicket, quick wicket - if a guy's bowling at 150km/h it's quick," Morne Morkel said.Johnson holds the key to Australia posting a victory that would seal their first Test series win on foreign soil since defeating the West Indies 2-0 in April 2012.The left-armer was often unplayable at Centurion, but his brutal blows to the head and body would have featured just as much in Domingo's post-match analysis.Ryan McLaren, left bloodied by a Johnson bouncer, will miss the second Test due to post-concussion syndrome.Left-armer Wayne Parnell is favourite to replace fellow all-rounder McLaren, however Clarke expected selectors may opt for a batsman.Regardless of Domingo's instructions, St George's Park is set to be a slower pitch than Centurion and not offer as much uneven bounce.