New Zealand in South Africa 2012-13

Can a series of unequals prove to be a contest?

It might be too much to hope that the South Africa-New Zealand Test series is hard fought, but both teams have little and big goals to pursue

Firdose Moonda

January 1, 2013

Comments: 54 | Text size: A | A

Morne Morkel bounces Rob Nicol, New Zealand v South Africa, 1st Test, Dunedin, 4th day, March 10, 2012
New Zealand will have to battle hard to match a dominant South Africa © AFP
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Both Talksport and the Wall Street Journal blog list the Ashes among their top ten international sporting rivalries. Other inclusions are India-Pakistan clashes on the cricket field and the Bledisloe Cup rugby between New Zealand and Australia. South Africa does not feature at all.

They will not be happy about that.

South Africa consider themselves some of the fiercest, toughest competitors around even when they finish second best. They reserve specials spots for their southern hemisphere opponents, against whom two of the most hotly contested battles are fought. South Africa and Australia's cricket teams have produced the gems that are the 438 ODI and the 47-all out Test, while the All Black and Springbok rugby teams made history on numerous occasions, most notably at the 1995 Rugby World Cup final.

When the All Blacks play in Cape Town they have a healthy local support base. Mixed-race communities who have seemingly never felt represented by the Springboks have chosen to vocally support New Zealand rugby. You see them at Newlands rugby stadium, dressed in the New Zealand kit, waving the New Zealand flag and cheering on the visiting them as if it were their own.

Unfortunately for the New Zealand cricket team, they can expect none of the same support probably because, unlike their rugby side, they do not have the reputation to match the big talk. In fact, the current tour was considered such a non-event that the administrators were willing to cancel the Boxing Day Test and schedule three Twenty20s instead, in the hope of coaxing interest out of the locals.

They did better than that. All the matches were sell-outs; the South Africans now want to watch their own team. With the Test mace housed on Corlett Drive in Johannesburg and a proud unbeaten run on the road, there is belief that the South African team will now produce the same at home. Locals want to be there to see it.

That could be the saving grace ahead of what is expected to be a one-sided Test series. The facts make that statement realistic rather than disrespectful: New Zealand have only won three of the 21 Tests they've played in South Africa, two of those before readmission. The last time they won a Test series was the one-off against Zimbabwe in January 2011. Before that, they had success in a series against Bangladesh in 2010 (also one match) and twice in 2008, home and away.

If you're looking for a team they earned a series win over that is not Bangladesh, you have to go back to 2006, when they beat West Indies. They have never won a series against South Africa, with their best result a draw at home in 2004.

With that in mind, this series could have very little to do with actual competition between the two sides. It will rather be a case of two teams running their own races. For South Africa, it will be about justifying their ranking and securing it. For New Zealand, it will be about surviving.

South Africa want to extend their lead at the top of the Test rankings and beating New Zealand will go a very small way to ensuring that. Even if they win the series 2-0, they will only gain one point on the table but it will open up their gap over England to six points and to 10 over Australia.

The series was also seen as a platform for South Africa to introduce new players, specifically a specialist wicketkeeper. The selectors, though, U-turned on giving Thami Tsolekile a tryout because AB de Villiers has changed his mind about taking the gloves permanently. Whether it exacerbates his chronic back conditions or not, de Villiers will keep in the series.

 
 
New Zealand will want some of their top six batsmen to reach three figures. They will want the bowlers to take 20 wickets, even if it's in a losing cause. They may even just want to take both matches to day five, given that even their own expert, Simon Doull, suggested tickets would not be needed after day four. Hopefully that will have raised the New Zealanders' ire enough for them to prove that wrong.
 

The only new player is batsman Dean Elgar, who made a pair on debut in Perth. He will replace Jacques Rudolph at No. 6 and be given an opportunity to see if his domestic form can translate on the international stage. Robin Peterson could also be considered in the new category as he only made a Test comeback less than a month ago. He will also have an extended run as the sole spinner in the XI. Rory Kleinveldt will play only if there is an injury to one of the premier seamers, although that looks likely at the moment with Vernon Philander nursing a hamstring strain.

New Zealand's goals will probably be smaller and more individual-specific. They will want some of their top six batsmen to reach three figures, especially since the lack of big scores from them has been identified as one of the main reasons the team does not win more. They will want the bowlers to take 20 wickets, even if it's in a losing cause. They may even just want to take both matches to day five, given that even their own expert, Simon Doull, suggested tickets would not be needed after day four.

Hopefully that will have raised the New Zealanders' ire enough for them to prove that wrong. Brendon McCullum has the enormous task of being the only real senior batsman as well as leading the side. Martin Guptill is the other big hope, having had a good run of form last summer, and much will rest on the young shoulders of Kane Williamson. He will have to prop up the middle-order and resist South Africa even better than he did in Wellington in March.

New Zealand's bowlers, like any quicks around the world, may look forward to playing on pitches with more bounce and carry than normal. They will not be getting the spicy surfaces of SuperSport Park or the Wanderers though, and will have to adjust to the more traditional cricket track at Newlands and the usually slow strip in Port Elizabeth.

Chris Martin has always done well against South Africa and he won't want that to change. Doug Bracewell and Trent Boult have real opportunities to make a statement and if Mitchell McClenaghan is picked, he will want to show he belongs.

But wants may not come into it for New Zealand. They will have to focus on what they need to do to show that they have more character than was suggested in the lead-up to the tour. Although the Ross Taylor debacle was not the fault of any of the players, it reflected poorly on the state of New Zealand cricket as a whole. Perhaps unfairly, it is up to the team to change that.

It might be too much to hope that this series puts southern-hemisphere contests in the spotlight or gives South Africa a reason to appear on respected lists of sporting rivalries. That job is left to cricket against Australia and rugby against New Zealand. What could happen through this series though is, just as rugby against Australia is looked forward to, so could cricket against New Zealand.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Soso_killer on (January 2, 2013, 14:14 GMT)

@CricketStargazer OK, since you followed the series too "closely" and i "didn't", your logic of taking chances should apply to KP aswell. If Amla did not drop him on 20 we would have bowled England out for less than 300 in the 2nd test. We would have had a lead of 120+ and thus declaring early. Again i'll stick to what i said, South Africa did not come close to losing a match in England, period!!

Posted by t20-2007 on (January 2, 2013, 12:36 GMT)

ALL OUT in 45...good bye NZ cricket

Posted by maddy20 on (January 2, 2013, 10:58 GMT)

On a lighter note, one cannot expect the wall street general to write about Saffas. It will expose why England are playing so well at the moment(KP, Trott often saving or winning them tests). For me though Saffas are always the fiercest competitors who fight for every inch any place anytime and still have enough to loan some to other countries. Its a mystery to me why they have not won a worldcup yet. I don't buy the chokers tag. Its gotta be something else!

Posted by   on (January 2, 2013, 10:25 GMT)

Can't believe that they left out Ross Taylor! What the hell were they thinking? Anyway, it's not looking that good for NZ at the moment...40 odd all out.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (January 2, 2013, 9:37 GMT)

@Soso_killer OK, so you didn't follow the series too closely. It's fair enough, there was a lot happening at the time. It's all ifs and buts however, had England taken their chances on the 5th morning of the 2nd Test they would have won soon after Tea and, in the 3rd Test, South Africa's nerve was tested somewhat, wasn't it, as England got rather closer than South Africa were expecting from an impossible position. Kudos to South Africa that they lost neither match. Catches win matches and England saw a winning position slip away by missing theirs.

Posted by Rahul_78 on (January 2, 2013, 4:42 GMT)

Ohh oo..! NZ cricket is the animal which bites at its fieriest when it is about to be mistaken to be dead. Cricketing logic says that it is going to be a massacre of Kiwis at the hand of Steyn and co..But and it is a big BUT cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties and if results could have been predicted before hand the game wouldn't have survived. It is always nice to see a battle of David versus Goliath.

Posted by redneck on (January 2, 2013, 4:07 GMT)

look im not going to chamipon the rankings system but im pretty sure Ms Moonda has forgotten south africa playing a test against new zealand doesnt make the rest of the world come to a hault. and as such australia cleen sweeping sri lanka will infact make the difference less not open it up more!!! as for the Bledisloe cup not being the pinnical as far as new zealand supporters are concerned. you guys forget that you need us aussies supporting it and the super 15's as without us and our corporate dollar you guys would have no tri nations (or 4 nationasl with argentina) or super 15 teams just your own domestic comp and a spring tour to europe every now and again!!! i think south africa vanishing from world sport for 20 years and therefore not playing their big rivals has more to do with their rivalries not being viewed in the same light by the rest of the world far more than being overlooked! cant think of any sport south africa play which they dont do well thats for sure!

Posted by   on (January 2, 2013, 4:02 GMT)

People in NZ expect the ABs to win every game, that is mandatory and I can imagine the SA public will be saying the same about test cricket right now. But what is important for NZ is to earn a draw and fight and show respect.. Getting whittled for 400 runs in 2 innings and letting SA declare for say 450/5 will never be acceptable. This is all about NZ showing a spirited fight and gaining the only respect that really matters in this world and that is SELF RESPECT.

Posted by camirapaul on (January 2, 2013, 1:17 GMT)

At least the Kiwi players have something to play for this time, come England in February NZ should have available barring injuries and availability (Southee, Vettori, Taylor, Ryder, Ronchi) potentially NZ could put out a very good side. For to long lack of depth has made players not accountable for their performance's the current players in SA need to perform if they are to keep their spots which is a good thing. Franklin for one is a player that has not justified his place in the test team for a long time, Flynn, Brownlie, Patel, to name a few need to step up if NZ is to be competitive.

Posted by Highflyer_GP on (January 2, 2013, 1:03 GMT)

@jayzuz: if you're going to pull the injury excuse, then you'll have to acknowledge SA playing with 10 men in the first test, and again 10 men in the second. The fact that Kallis even came out to bat twice is a testament to his resolve where most would have sat out the match. The fact is if a team cannot take 20 wickets, they don't deserve to win a test (backfiring declarations aside). Australia couldn't, and got the result they deserved.

Posted by bliksem23 on (January 1, 2013, 23:22 GMT)

Lol, everyone still having a gripe about the Aus/SA series? It was a classic series, with Aus unable to put SA away despite losing JP Duminy and Vernon Philander to injury and only having half a Kallis (yes, SA had injuries too, although you wouldn't know it listening to some of the comments on here), and then being demolished in Perth after completely running out of steam. Beautiful execution by SA, and worthless huffing and puffing by Aus. And will someone please explain what is meant by "overly conservative captaincy" instead of just trotting the phrase out repeatedly when they have nothing better to say?

Posted by Soso_killer on (January 1, 2013, 22:39 GMT)

Continued....

One major disappointment about South Africa is their ability to let one/two men take the game away from us, e.g. Philip Hughes in 2008, Graem Swann was the diff in 2009 in SA, again in Australia we allowed two players to take the game away from us when we were in dominant positions i.e. Clarke and Hussey.

In contrast when Dravid was playing out of his skin, England made sure that did not rub-off on others and thus India passed 300 just once in England. SA would have allowed the guy at the other end (low on confidence) to just rotate the strike to the inform batsman and thus building big partnerships and taking the game away from us.

Thats why i wont be underestimating NZ, a quick fire 130 from Brendon coupled with a gutsy 80 from Guptull, a patient 42 from Williamson could put us under severe pressure.

Posted by Soso_killer on (January 1, 2013, 22:20 GMT)

@CricketingStargazer "South Africa should have lost the 2nd test against England and the 3rd"? What? Are kidding me?

We should have won that series 3-0 thats the bottom line. We had england on the ropes @190-6 until KP took us apart. Despite that, we made a sporting declaration to try and win that game (2nd inns), you never declare from a "losing" position. In the 3rd test they were 90-5 again against the ropes, they had nothing to lose and chanced their arms by playing t20 cricket and still lost, the game appeared close on paper than it really was.

South Africa never looked like losing a single test in England i wanted to make that clear

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (January 1, 2013, 22:17 GMT)

@Jayzus That's the point, isn't it? Even when South Africa are under the cosh they have come out victorious in the end over the last year, which is the mark of a great side. Australia have, time and time again over the last 3.5 years, failed to finish off opposition and have ended up paying the price. It's the ability that separates a decent side from a really good one.

Posted by Jayzuz on (January 1, 2013, 21:45 GMT)

Jonsey2 is correct about SA vs Aust. The Saffas were anything but dominant: overly conservative captaincy saw them being totally outplayed for most of the series. The last few days of the series were the only time they ever looked like matching Aust., let alone winning. One can only speculate what result would have been if James Pattinson had not broken down early in the first innings of the 2nd test with Watson already out of the team, leaving just 3 bowlers; & 4 new fastbowlers for game 3? If I was SA, I would be giving thanks to the big umpire in the sky for getting away with that series. Don't see any mention of the obvious series-changing importance in these things from posters like Tommy Tucker, who are too busy running down others to take a good honest look at the truth. I can't ever remember the great Aust or WI teams being hammered like that, & coming up with a series win, & one of the obvious reasons is that they never played a team that had to change half the side mid-series

Posted by Soso_killer on (January 1, 2013, 21:39 GMT)

Lol @jonesy what are you doing in this forum.

Australia are destroying Sri Lanka apart, surely you could stick there and claim Australia to be the "best team in the world"

Posted by Jester01 on (January 1, 2013, 20:45 GMT)

The reality is that NZ will get slaughtered. I hope they do give us a good game though. Taylor will be missed by many including Morkel. The Newland's pitch is Vernon's playground. Dale is our best bowler but in our own home conditions... Vern for me has no equal.

Posted by Glenn10 on (January 1, 2013, 20:36 GMT)

This is a tough one to predict. NZ are so inconsistent the chances are they will be flogged. However, they also have a chance to be competitive and if they can win a few consecutive sessions they will be in the game. It would be a brave man to put some cash on them. As for the arguments about Ronchi, he has batted well this year and could and should make the team soon as a batsmen. Seriously, our weakness is in that middle order with Franklin and Flynn. Not good enough to make most Sheffield Shield sides let alone play test cricket. Watling should sure up the middle order, but I'm not holding my breath. Ryder appears a dead loss. His carry on and "I'll be ready when I say so" sums him up as the show pony he is. A great first class and flat track player who uses little foot movement and stands and delivers, but does not have the technique to fight out an innings when the ball is moving about a bit. If we are building a team for the future his inclusion is questionable. T20 & ODI only!

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (January 1, 2013, 14:39 GMT)

@jplterrors Jacques Kallis in 2012: 944 runs @ 67.2 (4x100), 11 wickets @ 28.3, 18 catches. James Franklin in 2012: 102 runs @ 20.4, 1 wicket @ 88, 1 catch. Which one do you think most coaches would really pick? James Franklin has bags of talent, but has done very little over a 12 year Test career in which he has struggled to hold a place down, hence he has played just 30 Tests and, at 32, based on his 2012 results, he is unlikely to play many more.

Posted by jplterrors on (January 1, 2013, 14:20 GMT)

Dont know why every1 is so quick 2 write NZ off yes there are a few players out but its up to the boys in there to make it difficult for them to get their spots back, Chris Martin dines out on Saffa wickets so expect him 2 get another bagful. And Kallis has been a great player but is now startin to slow down with age ask any Int coach in the world which allrounder they would MOST like 2 have in their side and they would be unanimous in support of Jimmy Franklin over Kallis.

Posted by mudhabir on (January 1, 2013, 13:58 GMT)

@PFEL Given that Australia got the better of South Africa in the recent series????? Dude SA were the deserved winners of the series and its the result that matters and not ifs and buts...

Posted by NAZMO-CRICKFANN on (January 1, 2013, 13:36 GMT)

wow , what an article. thank u sir .. u have made things a little clearer for me

Posted by mudhabir on (January 1, 2013, 13:28 GMT)

This NZ side without their best players doesn't lokk like posing threat to supreme SA..I anyhow wish gud luck for both the teams

Posted by PFEL on (January 1, 2013, 13:03 GMT)

New Zealand could have a chance. They managed to win a test against Australia a year ago (albeit in levelling conditions), though this side may be weaker and more inexperienced than that one. Given that Australia got the better of South Africa in the recent series (despite horrid luck and circumstance giving SA a misleading 1-0 victory), I wouldn't count New Zealand out just yet.

Posted by whofriggincares on (January 1, 2013, 12:10 GMT)

@TTsaffa, watching the aussies get bowled out for 47 was "thoroughly enjoyable" was it? How did you enjoy pup making 150 and taking the test away from you? If your much vaunted pace attack bowl like they did for the majority of the australian tour the lowly kiwis might just sneak a win over in SA. Now that would be thoroughly enjoyable.

Posted by InvisiblePJs on (January 1, 2013, 11:51 GMT)

@TommytuckerSaffa - even though the majority of your posts are obvious trolls, as an Aussie I sadly have to agree with your 'Wade to bat at 6 - LOL' comment. Realistically, it is one of those cases that happen at times when someone is in the right place at the right time. While an adequate player, he is only the 3rd best keeper/batsman in the country (after Paine & Haddin) - so the concept of him batting at 6 is quite ludicrous.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (January 1, 2013, 11:37 GMT)

@Shaolin Arora Don't take Jonsey too much to heart. After the Australia v South Africa series he was being just as rude and dismissive about his own side and suggesting that the Ashes are a lost cause for Australia. The truth is that this should be an extremely one-sided series but, with New Zealand one never knows: they lost Dan Vettori against Australia and, of course, won the Test to square the series. However, New Zealand seem to be the masters of the self-inflicted blow right now. There is one big difference with this South African side: they have a steel that previous teams didn't. Last year they should have lost the 2nd Test in England, could have lost the 3rd and no one gave them a chance in the 2nd v Australia, but they lost none of those matches. In contrast, having started totally dominant in England in 2003, they could only draw the series and having dismissed Australia for 47 a couple of years back, lost the 2nd Test! Tough cookies the 2012 South Africans!

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (January 1, 2013, 11:34 GMT)

@SurlyCynic Totally agree, I for one will never ever underestimate the kiwis. They always fight and they recently won a test match in Oz recently (which seems to be easier these days). As to your point the SA groundsmen should take a leaf out of the Aussie groundsmen books and prepare a few roads to ensure 5 days of test cricket. Eventhough 47 ALL OUT against oz was thoroughly enjoyable, we want to see a few more runs scored and 4/5 days of test cricket.

Posted by The_Ashes on (January 1, 2013, 11:18 GMT)

2-0 South Africa they're wasting their time with these new minnows.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (January 1, 2013, 11:08 GMT)

I think it's dangerous to underestimate a Kiwi side with nothing to lose. I'm sure they will be motivated to prove a thing or two. Sure, SA should be favourites, but let's hope for some good tests and if the Newlands pitch is like the '47' pitch from last year then anything can happen.

Posted by Supa_SAFFA on (January 1, 2013, 10:18 GMT)

New Zealand could perform the traditional haka at the start of each session to stike fear into the hearts of the South Africans. Hey, it works for the rugby team...

Posted by Jalz007 on (January 1, 2013, 10:14 GMT)

Hopefully it will turn out to be meaningful contest!! Wish the New Zealand Team all the best!

Posted by Min2000 on (January 1, 2013, 9:58 GMT)

My top 6 would be Guptill, BJ Watling, Williamson, McCullum, Daniel Flynn and Dean Brownlie. Brownlie and Flynn can be tenacious but someone in the top 4 needs a hundred if New Zealand is going to have any show. James Franklin makes my side as the "all-rounder" and bats at 7. Then the 4 frontline bowlers would be Patel, Bracewell, Boult and Neil Wagner.

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 9:44 GMT)

Agree that NZ-SA in rugby is bigger than Bledisloe Cup. Biggest test for an All Black team is to win in SA. We didn't even win a series in SA until 1996. Arguably NZ-SA in rugby has as much history and controversy as the Ashes in cricket.

Posted by hotcric01 on (January 1, 2013, 9:39 GMT)

Firdose Moonda,your articles are awesome!

Posted by THE_MIZ on (January 1, 2013, 9:12 GMT)

@jonesy2, you've got to be my favourite comedian on cricinfo. " if NZ were Full strength would just about have them as favourites" Good one! The "appalingly weak England side" whipped you in your own backyard! SA's lack of a spinner, as if NZ has one? Also didn't Petersen outbowl the mighty nathan Lyon? The weak lower order you talk about (including faf!) couldn't be dislodged on a fifth day wicket! How about the fact that all three SA seamers are ranked in the top 10 with Steyn,Philander as no. 1,2 respectively? "Injury cloudy" de villiers hasn't missed a test in 2012! Your arguments make no sense! Wait, you were joking...right?

Posted by Praxis on (January 1, 2013, 9:12 GMT)

The conditions in SA will be assisting the NZ bowlers, at the same time it will expose the weakness of their batsmen.

Posted by LillianThomson on (January 1, 2013, 9:01 GMT)

This is a very, very understrength New Zealand in the self-inflicted loss of Taylor, Southee, Ryder and Vettori.

But at full strength they too would have been licking the licks at the prospect of facing Elgar, two Petersons and Kleinveldt in a Test match.

South Africa should win comfortably, but you never quite know in Test cricket.

Posted by m.marshalldgreatest on (January 1, 2013, 9:01 GMT)

@jonesy2, Mate, I don't think you really are a cricket fan because the facts just don't back up your fantasy! Even with their strongest team, the Kiwis would be struggling! How soon you forget the series in NZ earlier this year when Southee was dropped during the test series against SA after a poor showing! Ronchi, Ryder, Taylor and Vettori in the team will make a difference but it would not have changed the result of the series, the Kiwis still lose. This weak England side have just beaten India in India!

Posted by StevieS on (January 1, 2013, 8:39 GMT)

"Bledisloe Cup rugby between New Zealand and Australia" Hardly! Our biggest rival is South Africa and always has been.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (January 1, 2013, 8:32 GMT)

@jonesy2 ROFL with your amusing and uninformed comments. SA just crunched your minnow team in your own backyard. I think Sri Lanka has a great chance with an Oz team in disarray. Wade to bat at 6 - LOL !

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 8:23 GMT)

where or who against is NZ's next test series?

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 7:48 GMT)

@jonesy2- South Africa far from convincing???? Are you kidding yourself???? They have just beaten Aus,Eng & NZ this very year on away tours.They have not lost a away test series in last 6 years. Also kindly explain by which of your absurd calculation would New Zealand be favorites even when fielding a full strength side given the fact that their injured players have played against other weaker oppositions in recent past and their test record is far from satisfactory???? Didn't you read the article properly???? They haven't won a great deal in recent times. NZ may give a tough fight or even might win a test but that would be an upset as they remain perennial underdogs against other stronger teams.

Posted by andrew-schulz on (January 1, 2013, 7:46 GMT)

If we are going to have this abomination of a rankings system (which by a fluke now has the best team at number one) and it is going to be taken seriously, as it should not be, is it too much to ask that we take the trouble to get it somewhere near right? Especially those who write for cricinfo and expect us to read their assessment. South Africa will not be ten points ahead of Australia if they win this series 2-0. If Australia win in Sydney, the margin would be only 7, and Australia will be less than one point below England.

Posted by SaulB on (January 1, 2013, 7:42 GMT)

@Jonesy, that england side only looked weak because SA played them out. Vettori is ripe for retirement so we wouldn't mind at all if he played, Taylor is good but he blows hot and cold and making runs in Sri Lanka does not make him a game changer. SA would relish a full strength NZ, it would make for a better series but the outcome would remain the same. SA's lack of spinner (peterson, faf, elgar) and weak lower (what?) order and the lack of a quality 3rd seamer (Kallis, Philander, Klienveldt) are fantasies made up in the media.

Posted by chilled_avenger on (January 1, 2013, 7:20 GMT)

If South Africa are not that dominant,how did Australia lose to them in their own backyard by 300-odd runs? Why couldn't the 'mighty' Australians knock over 6 SA wickets in the last day of the 2nd test? Fanatics like you give all the Australian fans a bad name!

Posted by kiwicricketnut on (January 1, 2013, 7:19 GMT)

@will allen luke ronchi has not done his time yet and can't play till the one dayers but wasn't picked anyway which i think is a good thing, he's a fourth string aussie keeper anyway and wicket keeper is actually a rare position of strength for us, mccullum in the short forms is the best in the world and watling deserves a decent go in the tests, consider latham is one of our brightest prospects and do we need aussie discards, i say no, most will say yes after all he's very good. Jesse is on holliday beating up domestic bowlers making us all miss him and make sure we don't take him for granted again

Posted by Lermy on (January 1, 2013, 7:15 GMT)

I don't think that NZ can hope to foot it as a team, but I believe the senior players have to try and match or outplay their opposites. If a few of the NZ team can play to their potential, they can support the new players and maybe the results as a whole will be respectable. So there is huge responsibility on the shoulders of McCullum, Guptill, even Williamson. But defeating the SA juggernaut??? Extremely unlikely, although anything is possible, which is why we punish ourselves by watching!!!

Posted by MH13 on (January 1, 2013, 6:57 GMT)

ronchi is elligable in feb i think,ryder said himself he didnt think he was ready.

Posted by jonesy2 on (January 1, 2013, 6:56 GMT)

if NZ were full strength i would just about have them as favourites but i still think they can get a drawn series out of this is they play well. south africa are far from convincing that photo caption is just confusing when have south africa ever been dominant apart from against an appallingly weak england side? its still going to be so hard for NZ it would be against anyone when youre missing literally your 5 best players, missing their best fast bowler in southee, best allrounder and spinner in dan, best keeper batsman in ronchi, best batsmen in ryder and taylor. NZ need to target SA's many areas of weakness, the lack of spinner, the weak lower order, lack of quality 3rd seam option and the injury cloudy de villiers.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (January 1, 2013, 6:51 GMT)

Smith, please bat first if you win the toss !!!!

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 6:25 GMT)

whats going on with Luke Ronchi? when is he elligable to represent NZ? having him in the side as a keeper-batsmen will strengthen the side. why Ryder isn't in this side I don't know , maybe someone can enlighten me on it.

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