New Zealand in South Africa 2012-13 January 5, 2013

New Zealand train while South Africa tan


While South Africa's squad dispersed hours after completing their innings victory at Newlands and will enjoy three days off, New Zealand are not taking any breaks before for the second Test. They have practices planned for both days of the weekend which would have spent playing Test cricket had the match not ended before tea on Friday.

"It's important to feel the pulse of the group and find out what's required in terms of training because quite a mental toll gets taken on you when you play a Test match," Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand captain, said after defeat. "There are times when you need to get straight back on the horse and other times when you need to have a little bit of reflection."

Team management decided to put the emotion aside and concentrate on the former, despite a feeling of embarrassment and shock still running deep in their squad. McCullum used the word "hurt," at least four times when discussing how his players felt. That is unsurprising given that they lost the match in an hour and 40 minutes on the first morning when they were bowled out for 45.

New Zealand had seven sessions after that to digest what they had done and claw back respect. They managed to do a bit of both. McCullum is adamant that they cannot forget about being dismissed in less than 20 overs in a Test because the memory of that will help them avoid repeating it. But he also recognises that the team has to move on quickly because another challenge awaits.

For them to do that, they have focus on how they improved as the match went on and how they can continue to perform at the level they did on days two and three. "The way we responded with the ball on the second day and then to get to 169 for 4 was a remarkable improvement from the previous day," McCullum said. "We've seen some ways where we can be successful against South Africa if we do those hard yards upfront."

It helped that New Zealand's bowlers were able to exploit the movement on offer on the second morning. They also adjusted their lengths accordingly after they were guilty of inconsistency as they chased the game on the first afternoon. McCullum hinted that there will be some changes to the attack.

Chris Martin's three-wicket return may not justify replacing him but the suggestion is that Neil Wagner, another left-arm quick, will play in Port Elizabeth. Only if New Zealand are feeling particularly brave will they gamble on the rookie left-armer, Mitchell McClenaghan. Their spinner is also a cause for concern. Jeetan Patel was ineffective with the ball and comically bad with the bat. Bruce Martin, a left-arm spinner, has been taking wickets domestically and could come into contention for that spot.

One thing McCullum confirmed is that the batting, albeit the main problem, will not be tinkered with. That is partly because New Zealand do not have too many options. Colin Munro is the only reserve batsman on tour so the same top six will front up in the second Test. "They deserve an opportunity again especially since we can see some improvements," McCullum said.

In the second innings, New Zealand's line-up, bar Martin Guptill, moved their feet better, chose their shots more selectively and showed better temperament which included more patience and less hot-headed, ill-thought out aggression. By doing that, they bored South Africa's bowlers somewhat.

The evening session on day two saw the South Africa quicks drift. They expected New Zealand to struggle against the short ball but they didn't get the length exactly right and when they tried to go fuller and induce an edge, they gave away runs. According to McCullum that was how New Zealand transferred some of the pressure back to South Africa.

"We were able to implement a better defensive strategy against them which helped us absorb the pressure a little better. Once we were able to do that, we were also able to put some pressure back on to them. There are some encouraging signs," he said. "Those are some areas where we can walk away saying that if we continue to nail them that will give us a far better performance but we have to do that across the entire game rather than only the second innings."

New Zealand's focus over the next two days will be on how to improve their consistency and play more like they did in the second innings more often. That may take longer than two days to perfect, but they have to start somewhere.

Monday will be reserved for playing in a Jacques Kallis charity golf tournament, where the proceeds will go to his scholarship foundation. However, do not be surprised if New Zealand sneak in a net session too. They will travel to Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, as will the South African squad, who will meet up a day earlier than scheduled.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Gerald on January 8, 2013, 13:48 GMT

    @LillianThomson - The use of the term "horror" is not appropriate when talking about Apartheid which was no worse than what the English did to the Irish or the Indian caste-system. Yet I doubt you will use that word to describe those situations. Typical lefty looking to score easy social points. Stick to cricket dude.

  • Beau on January 7, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    Munro and Bruce Martin should get a game. Tough to debut in these circumstances, but that's Test cricket. Patel and Franklin have used up yet another chance each over the past few months, and both have contributed very little. If not Munro or Wagner, I hope they at least play Bruce Martin. NZ need to trial the left-arm spinner before they face England, who have struggled against this type of bowler recently. Martin could not possibly bat or field as poorly as Patel or Phantom, and Franklin has become a no-rounder: Useless with both bat AND ball. And for the sake of pity, Baz, BOWL FIRST!

  • Nico on January 7, 2013, 7:02 GMT

    @LillianThomson The same should really then apply to the All Black rugby team as well?! Remember, this was only the first test. I recall that Australia was also bowled out by more-or-less the same team, for only a little more (at the same ground), just over a year ago. Immediately afterwards, Smith and Amla both responded with unbeaten centuries. These things happen in test cricket. NZ players can beat SA. In fact, a high school 2nd team can beat the World Nr1's. It just depends on who wants it most!

  • Dale on January 7, 2013, 5:25 GMT

    I think it needs to be said that they didn't "not" select Ryder or Taylor both of those players made themselves unavailable. I hope they do make a few changes -- Wagner for Chris Martin, Bruce Martin for Patel. Personally i would be tempted to give Munro a go for Franklin, but they probably want him to bowl a few overs - Franklin is one player who they really need to start showing some potential. He is meant to be first and for most a batsman yet his average is 20 - another is Guptil whose average is only just 30. Both especially Guptil have potential but if they are not going to start scoring soon - then give someone else a go. You can't keep selecting on potential and odd 20/20 score.

  • David on January 7, 2013, 2:21 GMT

    It's a frustrating time to be a New Zealand cricket lover.

    On the one hand, South Africa is a well-run, professional outfit. Meanwhile New Zealand suffers the worst imaginable cricket administration, which turns out a team of technically-flawed minnows and leaves what few top-class players it has at home.

    But in New Zealand, cricket is the summer game for 4.45 million people. Whereas at the risk of being crass about Apartheid's horrors, the white population of South Africa is 4.59 million.

    But the gulf between the two is vast. Now of course part of this is because currently 3 or 4 non-white South Africans are making a significant contribution to their national team. But you could probably pick both a "white" and "non-white" eleven capable of splattering New Zealand.

    But it is still absurd and outrageous that with similar population bases in terms of active participation in cricket we have South Africa as a cricketing superpower and New Zealand as a third-rate minnow.

  • Bruce on January 7, 2013, 1:17 GMT

    King Kallis needs only 4 more sixes to become the record holder for the MOST SIXES in TEST CRICKET HISTORY...... The rest from the ODI series will freshen him up for the Pakistan Test series.

  • greig on January 6, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    I think the Kiwi fans are being a little too crictical. Granted the 45 all out was poor but the 2nd innings was solid. Need to keep things in perspective, they have lost 2 good players to politics and they are playing the best team in the world in their own backyard. Lets not forget the kiwis drew a series in Australia recently 1-1, so these calls of dropping them from the test circuit are nonsense.

  • Sarvesh on January 6, 2013, 8:00 GMT

    Net sessions will help but it will not change things drastically for the Kiwi batsmen over the next week. Mark Richardson wrote in the NZ Herald stating that Kiwi batsmen lack the skills to bat first on a test pitch against a high quality pace attack. The problem is that batting last is not easy as well!

  • Gareth on January 6, 2013, 7:57 GMT

    Poor Poor management from NZ Cricket has got them in this predicament. It is about time some heads should roll. NZ cannot afford to have their best players of "International" quality sitting at home while their team is getting thumped.

  • Muhammad on January 6, 2013, 7:48 GMT

    As we predicted earlier that this will be going to happen against NZ so, nothing new. By not selecting RYDER and kicking out TAYLOR is the biggest mistake they have done. They should not forgive this and sack these senior members of the cricket board specially the coach. Further more drop GUPTILL from the test squad forever. To NZ fans where is a person name, something like this "Grant Elliot".