New Zealand in South Africa 2012-13 December 17, 2012

New Zealand go into SA T20s with 'optimism'

Adapting to foreign conditions is the test all touring teams want to pass on the road. South Africa have become masters of that art, having not lost a series away from home since 2006. New Zealand, with wins in Hobart and Colombo in the last year, are still learning.

The shortest format may be the ideal place to do that. With conditions only playing a small role and margins between teams much smaller, Twenty20 cricket is where teams like New Zealand hope to compete when they come up against a side with the reputation and form of South Africa.

"We can go into the T20 series with a great deal of optimism" Bob Carter, the New Zealand assistant coach, said. "We're very much up for it. The boys have gone into their training really well, with lots of energy, and we're really looking forward to the challenge of playing in South Africa. Who wouldn't? It's a good place to tour and there are exciting times here with cricket."

The sport has captured the attention of the public after the South African Test team rose to No.1 on the Test rankings in August with victory in England and stayed there when they beat Australia in their own backyard. Since scaling those heights, South Africa have not played in front of their home fans, who are eager to watch their team in action again.

But they will have to cheer on a new-look side. South Africa's T20 squad contains four uncapped players and a new captain as they attempt to revolutionise things ahead of the next ICC tournament.

It's with that in mind that New Zealand go into the series. Allrounder James Franklin does not think there is "too much to fear" even though his team is the clear underdog. "We have to pick our ranking up and the only way we can do that is by winning," he said.

New Zealand too have five uncapped players in their squad, some of whom will get a run in the practice match on Tuesday against South Africa A. For them, having these fresh faces around is "exciting", as Franklin and Carter put it. "Theirs is youthful exuberance, they've got no baggage and they just want to get stuck in and see where they fit in terms of the team and international cricket," Franklin said. "You've got to run a little bit faster and try and keep up with them. But hopefully it will rub of both ways. They rub off on me in terms of me trying to keep up and from me, if they want, a little bit of guidance."

These young players bring a fresh energy to the squad, which had been weighed down by internal strife, including the withdrawal of Ross Taylor, before the tour. "Their enthusiasm, their joy at being picked for New Zealand and the way they have gone about their business has been really good," Carter said. "They have really flung themselves at training and it's good to have them on board."

Carter also had a word of warning for the team about their opposition. "[Even with the newcomers] South Africa have still got a very fine side with Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel and others," he said. "That will be a really good test for us and a really good challenge. Every South African side is a good one."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 19, 2012, 2:31 GMT

    Don't care about the results as it probably will be a whitewash. But it'll be great to see how the NZ bowlers go. Anyone see Southee's performance against Wellington? (go to youtube). Yes, domestic NZ batsmen aren't great but he did clean up Jesse Ryder!

  • Jordan on December 18, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    I enjoyed the way New Zealands "uncapped B-grade" bowlers destroyed the South African A's batsman. I realize that this was SA's B team, but this bowling lineup was NZ's B team as well and they dominated.

    You have to wonder about the SAFFAS depth and domestic comps if unknown NZ bowlers can come in and outclass them. Let alone our starting bowlers like Southee, Boult and Bracewell.

    This is coming after our starting 3 ripped through SL with much more ease than Australia did in that last test. And South Africa struggled (at times) against the australian attack. Granted Australia lacked a lot at times, but i believe NZ have a far better bowling attack.

    TBH, i feel people are underrating the NZ team. Ofc this has bias behind it, and ofc south africa are the favorites. But i think people should be watching their back, there might be a surprise on the cards.

  • Stanton on December 18, 2012, 8:08 GMT

    Aggree toa point with Surly, T20's tend be more gamble that tactics, though I still fel SA have the quality to beat the black caps, even with alot of new players in the proteas lineup. However the test to me a re really a foregone conclusion, specailly with New Zealand not fielding the brest spin bowler in Vettori, and their best batsman in Taylor.

  • des on December 17, 2012, 18:04 GMT

    I think the Kiwis have a good chance of winning the T20s. T20s are a lottery and one good performance can swing a game. The tests, on the other hand, I can't see them winning.

  • Dummy4 on December 17, 2012, 16:04 GMT

    Whitewash by South Africa just watch.

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