Dominant South Africa hold all the aces
South Africa have been one of the toughest opponents for New Zealand over the years, and the home team's limp display in the ODIs further confirmed the fact that South Africa will start as firm favourites in the three-Test series, which begins in Dunedin. In the one-day international series, which the visitors won 3-0, it was apparent that they had more firepower with both bat and ball, and that has been the case in recent Tests between the two teams as well.
In the last two series played between them, South Africa have won four out of five Tests, with one draw. The saving grace for New Zealand is that both those series were played in South Africa, but New Zealand's record at home against them isn't much better: in 14 Tests they've won just once, in Auckland in 2004, and lost six times. That win-loss ratio is their poorest at home against any side. Against all other teams, New Zealand have won more than one Test at home.
Their overall record against South Africa is also among the worst. As the table below shows, only against England do they have a poorer win-loss ratio. The last time New Zealand played at home against South Africa, they managed a 1-1 series draw, but that series was played eight years ago.
New Zealand's recent home form is not that impressive either. In the last four years, the only home series they have won have been against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. They have lost series against England, India, Australia and Pakistan. (Click here for New Zealand's series-wise results at home since 2000.)
South Africa, meanwhile, have been the best overseas team in the world over the last four years, winning ten Tests and losing just four since the beginning of 2008. Their win-loss ratio of 2.50 is easily the best, well clear of England's 8-5 record. South Africa have won five of their last seven overseas series, against Pakistan, Bangladesh, England, Australia and West Indies, and have drawn the other two, against India. (Click here for South Africa's away series record since 2000.)
|Tests||NZ won||SA won||Drawn|
|In New Zealand||14||1||6||7|
|in New Zealand since 1992||7||1||3||3|
|South Africa||35||4/ 20||0.20|
|West Indies||37||9/ 10||0.90|
|Sri Lanka||26||9/ 7||1.28|
The batting and bowling stats for each team in their Tests in New Zealand indicate the vast gulf between the two teams. South Africa's batsmen average very nearly 50 runs per wicket (excluding runs in extras), and concede only 34 per wicket with the ball. The big difference in the stats between the two sides is in their ability to convert half-centuries into hundreds. South Africa have scored 11 centuries and 18 fifties in these matches, but New Zealand have converted only three of their 26 fifty-plus scores into hundreds.
|Team||Tests||Bat ave||100s/ 50s||Wkts taken||Bowl ave||Strike rate|
|South Africa||7||49.97||11/ 18||103||34.19||76.1|
|New Zealand||7||32.51||3/ 23||77||52.53||109.5|
Most of the South Africa batsmen in the current squad have excellent records against New Zealand. Only three of the specialist batsmen have played in New Zealand before, and they have all been among the runs. Jacques Kallis leads the way with 1356 runs, which is the fifth-highest by any batsman in Tests against New Zealand. His conversion rate is superb too, with five centuries and as many fifties, and he clearly does not mind playing in New Zealand either, with 530 runs in six Tests.
Hashim Amla has been prolific against New Zealand, with scores of 149, 56, 28, 12, 176* and 103 in his six innings, but he has not yet played a Test in New Zealand, and neither has AB de Villiers, whose record in five Tests is surprisingly modest. Graeme Smith averages 58 in three Tests in New Zealand, but in South Africa he's only averaged 27.50 in five Tests against them.
|Batsman||v NZ-Tests||Runs||Average||100s/ 50s||in NZ-Tests||Runs||Average||100s/ 50s|
|Jacques Kallis||14||1356||67.80||5/ 5||6||530||66.25||2/ 2|
|Hashim Amla||4||524||104.80||3/ 1||-||-||-||-|
|Graeme Smith||8||510||39.23||1/ 3||3||290||58.00||1/ 1|
|Jacques Rudolph||3||336||84.00||1/ 2||3||336||84.00||1/ 2|
|Mark Boucher||14||264||18.85||0/ 1||6||44||8.80||0/ 0|
|AB de Villiers||5||210||30.00||0/ 1||-||-||-||-|
Most of the New Zealand batsmen in the current squad have not played much against South Africa. Ross Taylor has just four innings - and a meagre tally of 44 runs from them. Brendon McCullum has played eight Tests against them, but averages only 22.30, with a highest of 57 in 14 innings.
New Zealand's two main bowlers, though, have had mixed luck against South Africa. Chris Martin has scored all of 16 runs in his ten Tests against them, but he has relished bowling at the South Africa batsmen, taking 44 wickets at 24.59, easily his best bowling stats against one of the top teams. His only ten-wicket haul in Tests came against them in Auckland, and it led to their maiden home Test win versus South Africa. Daniel Vettori, on the other hand, has struggled against South Africa: in 11 Tests he has taken a mere 18 wickets at 69.66, easily his worst figures against any side.
Among the three venues hosting the Tests, Hamilton has been the best one for New Zealand - they've won seven Tests and lost five, the only ground where they've won more than they've lost, among venues where they've played more than five Tests (though two of those wins were against Bangladesh). Wellington's the ground where they've won the most Tests - 14 - but they've lost four of their previous seven there. The University Oval in Dunedin, the venue for the first match, has hosted just three Tests and New Zealand have won two of them, against Bangladesh in 2008 and Pakistan the following year.
S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter