Boult thrust into leading from the front
New Zealand may be at a particularly low ebb but their young bowling attack is the main cause of optimism for the future. To demonstrate their current predicament, the bowler leading their attack has just nine Tests under his belt.
Trent Boult is accustomed to the new ball, having opened the bowling in eight of his Tests, but now, with Tim Southee absent from the tour through injury, Boult has assumed the senior role, forging a new partnership with Doug Bracewell - his third opening partner.
The pair first shared the new ball at Kingston in August and, along with Southee and the remainder of Chris Martin's career, should provide a stable base for New Zealand to try and rebuild.
"I'm only nine or 10 Tests in but to be leading the attack is pretty special and something I feel quite good about," Boult said. "I've grown a lot and although it's only a handful of international fixtures I've made pretty big strides in developing as a bowler. I'm not looking too far ahead but I've got that job with the new ball which I love.
"I've opened the bowling a few times although Tim or whoever else has been there in the past. I don't feel any more pressure than normal or any more emphasis that I've got to be the man to do the job. We've got a good bowling unit that works well together and as a long as we do our jobs and back each other up we're going to continue to be pretty successful."
Boult has been successful in his fledgling Test career with 29 wickets at 28.79. He is part of a young attack who have proved they can deliver results. Victories over Australia in Hobart in November 2011 - Boult's debut - and Sri Lanka in Colombo 12 months on were significant feathers in the caps of Boult, 23, Bracewell, 22 and Southee, 24 - a young trio who Boult enjoys playing with.
"It's definitely a collective thing. We're lucky to be three pretty good mates and we played a lot of cricket together growing up. Tim's very good, he's injured but I'm still talking to him and bouncing ideas off him back in New Zealand. He's played a lot of cricket and I really respect the way he thinks. He's tactically a pretty smart cricketer.
"We work together. I don't think you can say 'this is how I do it, this is the best way'. It's selfish thinking you're going to do it on your own and I think it's pretty important that you work as a group."
Regrouping is essential for New Zealand after the embarrassment in Cape Town. New Zealand were fired out for their third-lowest Test total of 45, from which no amount of youthful exuberance could conjure a recovery. Worse still, South Africa's reply came at a healthy run rate of above four-an-over on the first afternoon.
"It's hard with that score we had on the board," Boult said. "Maybe a couple of guys were guilty of going out there searching a bit and trying to swing the game and get wickets quickly. I don't think that's the way to go.
"We need to stick to our plans and what we've been talking about, and that's being patient and trying to outlast our opponents. Although the intensity has been high at training, it's all about keeping it simple and not getting too far ahead of ourselves."
The swinging ball will again be a factor in the second Test but Boult expects conditions to be different in Port Elizabeth from Cape Town. "There's swing there with the new ball but I'm not sure how much it's going to hang around, like the conditions in Sri Lanka or India. It's a crucial part of it to swing that new ball and use it effectively as possible."