South Africa in New Zealand 2011-12 March 21, 2012

Summer success hinges on third Test - Vettori


The third Test match against South Africa will play a defining role in New Zealand's summer, Daniel Vettori, the New Zealand allrounder, has said. After beating Australia in Hobart last year and dominating Zimbabwe in all three formats, New Zealand have had their victories put in perspective by a strong South Africa side.

South Africa have already claimed the Twenty20 and ODI trophies and cannot lose the Test series after they beat New Zealand by nine wickets in Hamilton. Their dominance now threatens to overshadow the host's achievements from earlier in the season. "It's [the third Test] pretty influential on our summer," Vettori said. "If we can scrap back from this Test match, it's been overall a very successful summer. If not, then I think we will remember it for that loss. It's really important, the boys understand that. They have done it in the past and this is an opportunity to try and do it again."

Although New Zealand find themselves trailing going into the final Test, Vettori feels they have been able to go toe-to-toe with South Africa for the majority of the time. The difference has been the ability of South Africa's batsmen to stick around that little bit longer even when the bowler's have been on top. South Africa had three centurions in the Dunedin Test while New Zealand had none. South Africa's top scorer in Hamilton was AB de Villiers, who battled for his 83, New Zealand's was Kane Williamson, who looked well set for more than his eventual total of 77.

"Unfortunately we let ourselves down with the bat in the first Test and we fought back with the ball and then let ourselves down again with the bat," Vettori said. "That's been the talk from Wrighty [John Wright] and Ross [Taylor} so far: applying ourselves with the bat and putting a score on the board for our three seamers to make the most of these conditions."

South Africa's bowlers have dealt New Zealand such heavy blows that they have had to drop one of the four-prongs in their seam attack to make room for an extra batsman. For the past three matches, New Zealand have played only five specialist batsmen and have been found wanting. So they have changed the balance of their team and will go into the Wellington Test with three fast bowlers and Vettori, who thinks that being without one of their quicks should not make too much difference.

"If the fourth seamer hasn't bowled as well as he would have liked him to in both Test matches, it just puts more onus on the other guys," he said. Tim Southee was the under-performing fourth seamer in Dunedin while Brent Arnel failed to impress in Hamilton. Although being without either of them will give the back-up bowlers extra responsibility, Vettori said they will view it as a chance to make an impact. "Maybe it will give a little bit of work for Dean Brownlie and Kane Williamson as well. We will look at it as a chance to bowl more overs and hopefully take more wickets."

The conditions will also mean that Vettori's role in the attack is clear. "With our three seamers, who are generally wicket-takers, they want a guy who can hold up an end," he said. "At the Basin, it's something that I have always been used to because of the wind. I think on days when it's fine and I am able to attack and I have done reasonably well here."

What Vettori hopes is that because New Zealand will only go into the match with four frontline bowlers, they will respond to their responsibilities with more urgency. "It's important that as a bowling group you know your roles and I think that's what South Africa do very well," he said. "When one guy is attacking, they can hold it up from another end and let that guy continue to attack so that's what we want to achieve in this Test."

Edited by Tariq Engineer

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 22, 2012, 3:33 GMT

    We need Nethula deserves his place. he beat the south africans in napier on a batting track.

  • Mike on March 22, 2012, 2:47 GMT

    Why is there major support for Nethula? The guy looks promising sure, but a first class average of over 38 and a return of 4 wickets at 97 in his last 3 plunket shield games won't scare Amla, Kallis & co. Everyone wants to see a legspinner, but surely form is the key factor in any selection? NZ's best chance of winning is a green seamer and we roll the dice ala Hobart.

  • Paul on March 22, 2012, 0:52 GMT

    WHAT? The Blackcaps win one test narrowly against Australia and get spanked in the other, despite the Australian side rebuilding and disrupted with injury and the tests being played on the two wickets with the most assistance for seamers. Then they beat Zimbabwe (hooray, that was unexpected). Now all of a sudden, Vettori says that if they can pull off the greatest upset of the last few years and beat South Africa, they can regard it as a good season! Hillarious!

  • Paul on March 22, 2012, 0:06 GMT

    Hey Firdose, did you actually watch AB de Villiers' innings of 83 in Hamilton? He did anything but battle, he stood head and shoulders above all other batsmen so superior was his knock. He looked at ease, played some beautiful strokes and was only dismissed in a freakish manner. I'm afraid I can draw only two possible conclusions - you either didn't watch AB's innings or you know very little about cricket.

  • Dummy4 on March 21, 2012, 23:38 GMT

    NZ are in a bad position any way you look at it. Their bowlers have had two cracks at bowling SA out twice and failed. This was with a bowler-heavy selection. Their batting line-up has been bowled out twice with only 3 50s between them (two from McCullum). If NZ drop a bowler for a bastman they are admitting that 20 wickets is not a possibility and they are hoping that the batsman can help force a draw at best. If they stick with a bowler heavy lineup they are expecting better results from pretty much the same guys who haven't done the job yet. Picking Nethula is probably the most attacking selection they could make but will the pitch play along with that?

  • Ed on March 21, 2012, 23:02 GMT

    I think they have to pick Nethula, they have to go for the win, and even though the batsman aren;t performing, you can't keep picking extra batters to cover. They have to trust in the batsmen they have and go with five bowlers. In NZ we tend to really critisize our team, which is massively unfair, we have tiny financial resources and yet still beat AUS and in the last match Mark Gillespie had SA on the rack, so it's not all doom and gloom folks ! C'mon the blackcaps !

  • theo on March 21, 2012, 22:23 GMT

    The 2 countries that have always produced more allrounders than the rest of the world were SA and NZ.... where are NZ's allrounders now????? that would CERTAINLY help the balance of the side!! the old guard of Harris, Cairns, Oram etc... where are their successors??? not rely on Vettori as the principle allrounder..

  • Dummy4 on March 21, 2012, 22:02 GMT

    Tell me Vettori is kidding when he says "we have been toe-to-toe with South Africa" for the majority of the time. The Black Caps haven't even been in the same league since the first T20. They got outplayed in the ODI's, rain saved them in the first test, and they got demolished inside 3 days in the second. Who does Vettori think he is kidding?

  • Grant on March 21, 2012, 21:32 GMT

    This match will define SA's summer too, at least as far as test cricket goes. Will the team resume a trend of losing focus once they're ahead? Will they emerge as credible contenders for the no 1 ranking or as merely moderately competitive over-hyped also-rans.

  • Dummy4 on March 21, 2012, 21:25 GMT

    NZers are gutsy cricketers and therefore won't simply roll over when confronted by a better team in all aspects of the game (at least on paper). In theory this should be an easy test for SA, but SA has shown over the last few seasons that they find it very difficult to perform well after a big win. So a big test of how SA progressed mentally under Kirsten. Also, I hope that a spin friendly pitch can greet Tahir...

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