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November 18, 2007
The New Zealand captain, Daniel Vettori, branded his side's performance against South Africa "inept" after they lost the second Test at Centurion inside three days by an innings and 59 runs.
Prior to this brief two-Test series New Zealand had played eight Tests in two years (to South Africa's 19) and just two in over 12 months. It was, as Vettori admitted, a tough beginning to his tenure as captain.
"It doubles up after the performance we put up at the Wanderers. We thought we could come back and fight a little bit harder here but unfortunately we delivered a similarly inept performance," he said.
"We need to play more Test cricket. It's also got to come down to individuals, to increase skill levels and desire. We need to put performances together against quality opposition. We've got Bangladesh coming up next.
"If we go ahead and win those games it doesn't necessarily mean we've become a good Test team. We've got to put performances together against teams like Australia and South Africa, and England back home in our summer."
The 2-0 series loss relegates New Zealand to seventh in the Test rankings, while South Africa leapfrog India and Pakistan to third spot and close in on England. Though it was undoubtedly a team effort from South Africa, Dale Steyn had the biggest impact on the series with consecutive ten-wicket match hauls. A career-best 6 for 49 today routed New Zealand for a paltry 136.
"I'm just doing what I have to do," he said, "getting the ball in the right places and communicating well with my captain. The guys off the field prepare these things so we can see the strengths and weaknesses of our opponents. We have bowled to a plan."
Graeme Smith, his captain, was full of praise for the young colt but insisted that Steyn's success was due in no small part to Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel and Jacques Kallis.
"He's [Steyn] bowled at pace with good control and he's got the ball to swing," he said. "But the other guys have worked around him pretty well which has allowed him to come back at different times and strike. I like to know that he's hungry for more success."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Plays of the Day from second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan, in Port Elizabeth