New Zealand v South Africa, 3rd Test, Wellington March 22, 2012

Chance for New Zealand to restore faith

23

Match Facts

March 23-27, Wellington (Basin Reserve)
Start time 1030 (2130 GMT)

Big Picture

Sportsmen are taught Aristotle's philosophy of "one swallow does not a summer make," in an attempt to ensure they don't get carried away by isolated performances. Most of the time, it's a sensible way to assess results. The Wellington Test match could be one of those times when it isn't. It is the concluding chapter of the summer for both teams, and will serve as a decent indicator of where each of them are after a season of hard graft.

For New Zealand, a fightback and a victory will end their season on a high after it started, filled with promise against Australia and sprinkled with authority over Zimbabwe. New Zealand were careful to treat their whitewash of Zimbabwe with sobriety and not read too much into the results, knowing that South Africa would be tougher opponents. Just how tough, only emerged later.

Since winning the first T20 on February 17, New Zealand have been on the back foot. Even the drawn Test in Dunedin was thought of to have meant more for South Africa as it would have required a record-breaking effort from the hosts to emerge victorious. Wellington was where New Zealand started the series, with a victory, and they look to end it here with victory as well.

South Africa will use the New Zealand tour as a springboard to the rest of their travels this year, which include a top-of-the-table Test clash against England and a series in Australia. They cannot lose the series, which will keep their record as world cricket's best travellers since 2007 intact. In almost every department, bar their first innings showings with the bat, South Africa have looked a complete unit. Morne Morkel said they feel ready to play "the perfect Test match," which involves one massive innings and bowling the opposition out twice. If they get that right, they will leave New Zealand with having achieved everything they set out to do.

Form guide

(most recent first) New Zealand LDWWL
South Africa WDWLW

Players to watch

Daniel Flynn last represented New Zealand in December 2009, in the middle order. He will make his comeback as an opener, coming off three consecutive first-class centuries. Although the batting line-up should not depend entirely on him for an improved showing, they will certainly be looking to him for a solid start. New Zealand's highest opening stand in the series so far has been 16 and Flynn will need to combine with Martin Guptill for many more runs than that if he hopes for a longer stint in Test cricket than Rob Nicol had.

He is the bowler almost everyone is talking about and Vernon Philander cannot seem to put a foot wrong. Philander has collected 15 wickets in the series so far, at an average of 14.33, and if he takes five in the Wellington Test he will be the fastest South African to 50 Test wickets and the fastest for almost 116 years. Philander should continue to make use of subtle seam movement and exemplary lines but it will be interesting to see how he deals with the fierce winds at the Basin Reserve.

Team news

New Zealand will include a sixth specialist batsman to prop up their line-up. Nicol was dropped from the squad after the Hamilton Test and Flynn will open in his place. Dean Brownlie has recovered from a broken finger and will slot in at No.6, meaning that Daniel Vettori and Kruger van Wyk will drop one place lower. The new-look batting card will mean New Zealand are forced to leave out one of their seamers and field a three-pronged attack consisting of Chris Martin, Mark Gillespie and Doug Bracewell.

New Zealand: (probable) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Daniel Flynn, 3 Brendon McCullum, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Kane Williamson, 6 Dean Brownlie, 7 Daniel Vettori, 8 Kruger van Wyk (wk), 9 Doug Bracewell, 10 Mark Gillespie, 11 Chris Martin

Graeme Smith confirmed that there is unlikely to be any changes to the South African XI. Marchant de Lange, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, JP Duminy and Robin Peterson will continue to serve drinks.

South Africa: (probable) 1 Graeme Smith, 2 Alviro Petersen, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 Jacques Kallis 5 AB de Villiers/JP Duminy, 6 Jacques Rudolph, 7 Mark Boucher (wk), 8 Vernon Philander, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir

Pitch and conditions

The Basin pitch was ready to play on four days ago as the groundstaff anticipated wet weather in the lead up to the match. The sun came out on Thursday though, giving the curator Brett Sipthorpe a few hours to allow his surface to dry. He uncovered it for the first time since Sunday and revealed a patchy looking surface that started to even out the more it was rolled. It is being talked of as a good cricket surface, with enough in it for bowlers and batsmen alike. The match could well be interrupted by rain, with scattered showered forecast for the weekend. Conditions will be made more challenging by the strong northerly wind which is set to blow across the ground for the first two days.

Stats and trivia

  • New Zealand's highest partnership was scored at the Basin Reserve, a 467-run third-wicket stand between Martin Crowe and Andrew Jones in January 1991.
  • Mark Boucher is five dismissals away from completing 1,000 dismissals across all formats in the international game

    Quotes

    We're one-nil down in the series we know that were not far away from competing with this side. We've been on top in a few situations we just haven't been able to ram it home.
    Ross Taylor hopes New Zealand can play to their potential in the final match of the series

    I'd like to see us keep that curve going up. We'd like to round off with a comprehensive performance in the next five days.
    South Africa want to leave New Zealand on a winning note, as Graeme Smith emphasised

    Edited by Kanishkaa Balachandran

    Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

  • Comments have now been closed for this article

    • Lermy on March 22, 2012, 23:35 GMT

      NZ have finally found the SA weakness... ...rain!!

      I remember turning up to a cricket ground in Palmerston North with literally one inch of water lying on the pitch, and some of the players were seriously arguing for us to wait and see if conditions improved enough to play. Fun times!!!

    • on March 22, 2012, 21:53 GMT

      You've got to agree with @SA_Scot. Also, there are many test playing nations who would give anything to have a player of Morkel's talent in their starting line-up. If he were that bad a player(which he isn't) the statistics would have showed him up a long time ago. He's consistently around the top 10 in world rankings. Lets put things in perspective and not let our bias affect our logic.

    • Patchmaster on March 22, 2012, 21:12 GMT

      @ WIlmott Steve Angers - I think you'll find that ENG has the best new ball atack in the World, SA is second bestm but still very good. Anderson, Tremlett, Bresnan, Finn - that's the World Number one attack.

    • Sombrehombre on March 22, 2012, 20:56 GMT

      As an NZ fan watching this series I have nothing but jaw dropping admiration (and jealously) for the South African attack. Not too disappointed with how NZ have played as we are competing here with the very best. We have managed to roll the best top order in world cricket on a couple of occasions and there have been some good showings from Tayor and McCullum with the bat. All in all good progress for NZ, considering how UTTERLY RUBBISH we were 2 years ago I am mucho happy. To South Africa fans, you team is scary good.. great contest coming up with England.

    • SurlyCynic on March 22, 2012, 20:34 GMT

      I predict a tanning. And not by the spectators.

    • on March 22, 2012, 19:55 GMT

      It is just not fair on Flynn to ask him to open against the best new ball attack in the world on his comeback game, NZ are in a real panic!!!!

    • on March 22, 2012, 19:30 GMT

      Duminy should seriously consider about migrating to NZ to try Test Match opportunities like Wagner, BJ Watling, Van Wyk. Both NZ and Duminy will gain from this migration!

    • binojpeter on March 22, 2012, 19:03 GMT

      I agree with all that Morkel is a key bowler for South Africa. He bowls with an average speed of 142kph with good line and length, has all deliveries in his stride and more importantly is a thinking bowler. He knows well to set up a dismissal.

    • on March 22, 2012, 18:53 GMT

      I wish Amla had a big hundred. 45 Ave. does not fit to his name. So far he has an ordinary performance in 2 tests by his name.

    • letsgoproteas on March 22, 2012, 17:04 GMT

      I hope SA come away with a win - If NZ tie the series it'll be another false story going into the record books. SA dominate but somehow don't get the results.

    • Lermy on March 22, 2012, 23:35 GMT

      NZ have finally found the SA weakness... ...rain!!

      I remember turning up to a cricket ground in Palmerston North with literally one inch of water lying on the pitch, and some of the players were seriously arguing for us to wait and see if conditions improved enough to play. Fun times!!!

    • on March 22, 2012, 21:53 GMT

      You've got to agree with @SA_Scot. Also, there are many test playing nations who would give anything to have a player of Morkel's talent in their starting line-up. If he were that bad a player(which he isn't) the statistics would have showed him up a long time ago. He's consistently around the top 10 in world rankings. Lets put things in perspective and not let our bias affect our logic.

    • Patchmaster on March 22, 2012, 21:12 GMT

      @ WIlmott Steve Angers - I think you'll find that ENG has the best new ball atack in the World, SA is second bestm but still very good. Anderson, Tremlett, Bresnan, Finn - that's the World Number one attack.

    • Sombrehombre on March 22, 2012, 20:56 GMT

      As an NZ fan watching this series I have nothing but jaw dropping admiration (and jealously) for the South African attack. Not too disappointed with how NZ have played as we are competing here with the very best. We have managed to roll the best top order in world cricket on a couple of occasions and there have been some good showings from Tayor and McCullum with the bat. All in all good progress for NZ, considering how UTTERLY RUBBISH we were 2 years ago I am mucho happy. To South Africa fans, you team is scary good.. great contest coming up with England.

    • SurlyCynic on March 22, 2012, 20:34 GMT

      I predict a tanning. And not by the spectators.

    • on March 22, 2012, 19:55 GMT

      It is just not fair on Flynn to ask him to open against the best new ball attack in the world on his comeback game, NZ are in a real panic!!!!

    • on March 22, 2012, 19:30 GMT

      Duminy should seriously consider about migrating to NZ to try Test Match opportunities like Wagner, BJ Watling, Van Wyk. Both NZ and Duminy will gain from this migration!

    • binojpeter on March 22, 2012, 19:03 GMT

      I agree with all that Morkel is a key bowler for South Africa. He bowls with an average speed of 142kph with good line and length, has all deliveries in his stride and more importantly is a thinking bowler. He knows well to set up a dismissal.

    • on March 22, 2012, 18:53 GMT

      I wish Amla had a big hundred. 45 Ave. does not fit to his name. So far he has an ordinary performance in 2 tests by his name.

    • letsgoproteas on March 22, 2012, 17:04 GMT

      I hope SA come away with a win - If NZ tie the series it'll be another false story going into the record books. SA dominate but somehow don't get the results.

    • on March 22, 2012, 13:55 GMT

      Anyone who favours Tsotsobe over Morkel in the test side is bonkers. Morkel can be wild, but plays a very significant role in the side as he is quicker, taller and can be very intimidating. His figures in the series don't reflect how well he has bowled. There is no need to change anything in the bowling line up that better balanced than it has been for years ... especially with the additions of Philander and Tahir. If there is a weakness in the SA team at the moment it's in the middle order batting, not the bowling. Duminy for Tahir ... what a negative move that would be. Tahir needs as much test bowling experience as possible before the England series.

    • justtogood on March 22, 2012, 12:17 GMT

      @ALL - De Langa, De Langa, Delaga should be there before Tsosobe in my opinion!!!! I would like to see JP Duminy in the lineup somehow somewere.....he is an exceptional bat and would have him in my lineup anyday!!!! even at the expense of Tahir, even though I really think hes great for SA cricket....WATCH OUT ENG our boys are coming to get YOU!!!!!

    • Richard_B on March 22, 2012, 11:55 GMT

      Re Tsotsobe vs Morkell. I've never been less than impressed by Tsotsobe, but I think Morkel's physical stature makes him a different prospect, in theory a strike bowler, although he doesn't strike often enough in my view. I don't think Tsotsobe was given the same chances and i feel for him. And now with Philander's arrival he is further down the pecking order as that role, the holding seamer, would be Tsotsobe's best fit. Poor guy. So many tours, so few games. He's better than that.

    • SA_Scot on March 22, 2012, 10:40 GMT

      @abyrao...sorry chap, everyone gets to have an opnion, but c'mon. Duminy for Tahir.....what side of the cricket wicket were you raised ;-).

      Morkel is still not quite there I agree, but Steyn and Philander are the *movers* and Morkel is the intimidator...he gets far more bounce and has more pace than the other 2, so as a unit they are a really good foil for each other.

      BUT, the most glaring observation of yours is to suggest Duminy for Tahir...it's just crazy. One of the the *balances* of a bowling attack is to have good variety....and your justification seems to be that Dumny is a good enough bowler...no he is NOT! He is a part time bowler who would bowl loose balls far more than a full time spinner would, and he would get tired as well because he is a "part-time bowle"r. He may have potential, but to turn that into Test Match successful bowling he would need to spend many more years bowling hundreds of overs in Domestic cricket to work out his style, comfort and range.

    • on March 22, 2012, 10:22 GMT

      Having Flynn at 2 is a mistake... He has not faced any of these bowlers and plays at 5 locally!! I still think McCullum needs to make up his mind, opener or keeper batsman? NZ always lose a batter in the first 10 overs so he pretty much is an opener.....! I Hope I am proved wrong, but if NZ bats first forsee another 50/2 with the middle order doing the hard yards.

    • Romanticstud on March 22, 2012, 9:43 GMT

      Interesting build up ... I have noticed one glaring observation ... SA bowlers have dominated except in the drawn test ... NZ have had good bowling spurts ... The most worrying factor from SA is the lack of consistency with the bat ... On paper with Smith, Amla, Kallis, De Villiers in the side one should have 500+ scores from SA ... Vettori and Van Wyk have at times threatened to conquer SA ... Remember Kallis can also bowl ... He got Vettori twice ...

    • TommytuckerSaffa on March 22, 2012, 9:11 GMT

      Its quite obvious from listening to the kiwis that BMc should be opening the batting and flyne slotting in at middle order.

      @abyroa, i kind of agree with you in part, I think Morkel has had more chances than Tsotsobe, also Morkel's average is 31 which is not amazing considering his is a strike bowler. I totally disagree on dropping Tahir though, he is a quality leg spinner and SA has been short of a good spinner for far too long - now the attack is more balanced.

    • gtt71 on March 22, 2012, 8:20 GMT

      The biggest surprise is Flynn opening the batting. Good short spurt of domestic form in the middle order. Maybe the best of bad bunch A thought. McCullum should be opening with MG. Bring Matt Sinclair in for a off test. He is better than most. Take long term prospects to WI.

    • MAK123 on March 22, 2012, 7:07 GMT

      Vittori's statement is certainly worth pondering over

    • JustOUT on March 22, 2012, 6:16 GMT

      If not interrupted by rain, SA will win this test match easily.

    • abyrao on March 22, 2012, 5:39 GMT

      Imagine Morne Morkel in the team with no Steyn or Philander? His weaknesses are hidden behind the stars. SAF should go for Tsotsobe who is a 100 times better bowler than the over hyped Morkel. Also they should include Duminy for Imran Tahir the batting also will have more depth and Duminy is certainly a good spinner.

    • Vista12 on March 22, 2012, 5:29 GMT

      It should be another interesting test match. NZ seem to compete for a couple of sessions and then SA usually give the knock out punch - more of the same can be expeceted in this test. NZ's batting looks alot stronger with Van Wky at 8 - but can they bowl the strong SA team out twice with only 4 bowlers - I doubt it?

      Im glad Pieterson and Tahir continue to develop in their roles - they need support and assurances so they can confidently fill South Africa's only "weak spots" in the team. England will be very concerned about facing SA in the coming months thats for sure. Philander to take 8 wickets in this match and move to 5th in the bowler rankings (currently 9th which is insane).

    • on March 22, 2012, 4:47 GMT

      Vettori and van Wyk should swap in the batting order, I know Dan has had good form over the last few years but I still find it hard to believe he should play ahead of NZ's most in form domestic test batsman at the moment.

    • No featured comments at the moment.

    • on March 22, 2012, 4:47 GMT

      Vettori and van Wyk should swap in the batting order, I know Dan has had good form over the last few years but I still find it hard to believe he should play ahead of NZ's most in form domestic test batsman at the moment.

    • Vista12 on March 22, 2012, 5:29 GMT

      It should be another interesting test match. NZ seem to compete for a couple of sessions and then SA usually give the knock out punch - more of the same can be expeceted in this test. NZ's batting looks alot stronger with Van Wky at 8 - but can they bowl the strong SA team out twice with only 4 bowlers - I doubt it?

      Im glad Pieterson and Tahir continue to develop in their roles - they need support and assurances so they can confidently fill South Africa's only "weak spots" in the team. England will be very concerned about facing SA in the coming months thats for sure. Philander to take 8 wickets in this match and move to 5th in the bowler rankings (currently 9th which is insane).

    • abyrao on March 22, 2012, 5:39 GMT

      Imagine Morne Morkel in the team with no Steyn or Philander? His weaknesses are hidden behind the stars. SAF should go for Tsotsobe who is a 100 times better bowler than the over hyped Morkel. Also they should include Duminy for Imran Tahir the batting also will have more depth and Duminy is certainly a good spinner.

    • JustOUT on March 22, 2012, 6:16 GMT

      If not interrupted by rain, SA will win this test match easily.

    • MAK123 on March 22, 2012, 7:07 GMT

      Vittori's statement is certainly worth pondering over

    • gtt71 on March 22, 2012, 8:20 GMT

      The biggest surprise is Flynn opening the batting. Good short spurt of domestic form in the middle order. Maybe the best of bad bunch A thought. McCullum should be opening with MG. Bring Matt Sinclair in for a off test. He is better than most. Take long term prospects to WI.

    • TommytuckerSaffa on March 22, 2012, 9:11 GMT

      Its quite obvious from listening to the kiwis that BMc should be opening the batting and flyne slotting in at middle order.

      @abyroa, i kind of agree with you in part, I think Morkel has had more chances than Tsotsobe, also Morkel's average is 31 which is not amazing considering his is a strike bowler. I totally disagree on dropping Tahir though, he is a quality leg spinner and SA has been short of a good spinner for far too long - now the attack is more balanced.

    • Romanticstud on March 22, 2012, 9:43 GMT

      Interesting build up ... I have noticed one glaring observation ... SA bowlers have dominated except in the drawn test ... NZ have had good bowling spurts ... The most worrying factor from SA is the lack of consistency with the bat ... On paper with Smith, Amla, Kallis, De Villiers in the side one should have 500+ scores from SA ... Vettori and Van Wyk have at times threatened to conquer SA ... Remember Kallis can also bowl ... He got Vettori twice ...

    • on March 22, 2012, 10:22 GMT

      Having Flynn at 2 is a mistake... He has not faced any of these bowlers and plays at 5 locally!! I still think McCullum needs to make up his mind, opener or keeper batsman? NZ always lose a batter in the first 10 overs so he pretty much is an opener.....! I Hope I am proved wrong, but if NZ bats first forsee another 50/2 with the middle order doing the hard yards.

    • SA_Scot on March 22, 2012, 10:40 GMT

      @abyrao...sorry chap, everyone gets to have an opnion, but c'mon. Duminy for Tahir.....what side of the cricket wicket were you raised ;-).

      Morkel is still not quite there I agree, but Steyn and Philander are the *movers* and Morkel is the intimidator...he gets far more bounce and has more pace than the other 2, so as a unit they are a really good foil for each other.

      BUT, the most glaring observation of yours is to suggest Duminy for Tahir...it's just crazy. One of the the *balances* of a bowling attack is to have good variety....and your justification seems to be that Dumny is a good enough bowler...no he is NOT! He is a part time bowler who would bowl loose balls far more than a full time spinner would, and he would get tired as well because he is a "part-time bowle"r. He may have potential, but to turn that into Test Match successful bowling he would need to spend many more years bowling hundreds of overs in Domestic cricket to work out his style, comfort and range.