New Zealand in South Africa 2012-13 December 13, 2012

New Zealand won't be underestimated - De Villiers

South Africa will not take their summer series lightly, even though they are of a significantly lower-profile than the contests fought earlier in the year. New Zealand do not present the same challenge as England or Australia but South Africa want to use their home fixtures to show why they are the top-ranked Test team.

"We have to play as well as we played in Australia to showcase the fact that we are No.1 in the world in Test cricket," AB de Villiers, the team's limited-overs captain said. "And we also want to do well at home."

Since claiming the Test mace in England, South Africa have not played in front of their own fans or in their own stadiums: places where they have been less ruthless than on the road. This season, de Villiers said, that will change. With no hoodoo Boxing Day Test in Durban - and no Test at Kingsmead at all - South Africa have no monkeys to get off their backs and New Zealand have been warned to expect a hostile reception.

"We understand that we are the favourites and we should win if we play good cricket," de Villiers said. "We've got the mental advantage but we still have to play well. They are one of those teams that when they get it right, they are hard to beat."

South Africa did not wipe the floor with New Zealand when they visited them earlier in the year and experienced some of the stubborn resistance that they are capable of. Kane Williamson held off a determined attack, despite being struck a painful blow in the box, to deny South Africa victory in the Wellington Test while South Africa needed last over heroics from Marchant de Lange to win the Twenty20 series.

De Villiers expects the limited-overs matches to be more closely contested because that is where New Zealand can pose the biggest threat. "New Zealand are a very busy team and they have a very good fielding unit so that's what makes them good in the T20s and ODIs," he said. "They've had a few upsets to their Test team so they are still finding their feet but they are more dangerous in T20s and ODIs. They've got a few big hitters, they run well between the wickets and they've got good skill with the bowlers."

The "upsets" de Villiers referred to centre on the withdrawal of Ross Taylor from the tour following a captaincy dispute with coach Mike Hesson. Not only have New Zealand lost their captain as a result of the fracas, but also the mainstay of their batting order. Many South Africa players have sympathised with Taylor's plight with Hashim Amla posting on Twitter that he feels for Taylor, and de Villiers saying he would like to see him "come back to cricket soon."

But New Zealand will also be without another stalwart. Daniel Vettori has not recovered from injury and his absence is what de Villiers thinks New Zealand will miss most. "Dan is one of the biggest threats in their team so not having him is a big blow," he said.

The tour starts next Friday with a Twenty20 in Durban but the first Test will only be played next year - the traditional New Year's Test in Cape Town.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 14, 2012, 12:15 GMT

    Even though I am from Durban, and love the boxing day test matches that are played here, given the amount of rain we have had its probably better that their arent any test matches happening here. They would more than likely be rained out.

  • Mark on December 14, 2012, 6:37 GMT

    @Robster1: You might be right. But then people said that before Colombo a few weeks back. And before Hobart a year back. Both on foreign soil for NZ, and both after a hiding. Yes, South Africa are a better side than both Sri Lanka and Australia were then, but there's always two teams in a cricket match.

  • Rob on December 14, 2012, 0:32 GMT

    Only unexpected weather can save the Kiwis from yet another thrashing in SA. The best they can hope for is to win a limited over match. And play future Boxing Day tests in Port Elizabeth.

  • Dummy4 on December 13, 2012, 21:16 GMT

    Blah blah India.... what has India got to do with any of this? its NZ vs SA... And i do disagree that Vettori is a big threat, his wicket taking potential is not very high anymore, his batting is the biggest threat.

  • Dummy4 on December 13, 2012, 15:29 GMT

    I don't get the negative comments about SA not playing at Kingsmead. Kingsmead is the third Test venue in South Africa behind the Wanderers and Newlands. It's been that way for decades. It's a two Test series - it makes complete sense that they'd be played at the top two grounds in South Africa, and Kingsmead is not one of those. Simple as that. It has nothing to do with fear of the venue or whatever.

  • Geeva on December 13, 2012, 12:43 GMT

    @SurlyCynic:on your WACA comment SA previously toured AUS in the holiday period hence MCG and SCG and Adelaide was the venues,aus always played ath the 6 venues unless its ashes year..and it really depended when you tour Aus.Actually the Kingsmead wicket was veri bowler friendly the last 4 tests....Laxman played a blinder in 2010

  • Dummy4 on December 13, 2012, 12:15 GMT

    I'm split on the Durban thing; on one hand it's not easy to win there but it's easy to lose however, on the other hand as Geeva says, you're the #1 team and you shouldn't be scared of playing a Test Match there, especially against a weaker N?Z team.

  • des on December 13, 2012, 11:55 GMT

    Geeva - that's an interesting comment given how Aus kept SA away from the WACA for years when Donald was playing. Of course tests will return to Durban, and most fans want a boxing day test. Hope they can sort out the Kingsmean pitch though, it's been subcontinental in recent years and teams like India and SL have felt right at home there. Might as well play to home strengths like India do with their dust bowls.

  • Geeva on December 13, 2012, 9:58 GMT

    I find it strange that the current test no1 team have opted not to play at durban jus because they have lots 4 in a row!!!Great teams don think like that!!!!!!!Aus has 6 test venues and allways play at them except in ashes years..hobart will miss out!hoefully when India and Aus arrive in dec 2013 boxing day test will return to Dbn

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