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Ken Borland

Kiwis have some comforts to make them feel better

Posted on January 08, 2013 by Ken

Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, the venues for the two Tests against New Zealand this summer, are the two South African cities most like Auckland so the tourists should feel right at home.

And, while the Kiwis have generally had an awkward time in South Africa, losing 14 of the 21 Tests they have played here, two of their three triumphs have come at the two coastal cities.

And, just to make Brendon McCullum’s visitors feel even more at home, they will land in South Africa 50 years after they won Tests in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth – their first ever overseas – to share the 1962 series 2-2.

South Africa’s team is a totally different beast these days, however. They are the number one ranked team in Test cricket and the record-breaking exploits of Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander are the greatest in the country’s history.

Back in 1962, South Africa were a team in transition. Captain Jackie McGlew, swashbuckling batsman Roy McLean, wicketkeeper Johnnie Waite and fast bowlers Peter Heine and Neil Adcock were all at the end of their careers, while Eddie Barlow, Peter Pollock, Colin Bland and Tiger Lance were all playing in their first series and would go on to form part of the team that dominated world cricket at the end of the decade.

Having beaten their hosts by 72 runs in the second Test in Cape Town and by 40 runs in Port Elizabeth, New Zealand promptly won their first Test back in South Africa after isolation, winning by 137 runs at the Wanderers in 1994, but since then the Proteas have had a perfect record at home against the Black Caps.

In fact, since losing by nine wickets in Auckland in 2004, South Africa have been totally dominant in Tests against New Zealand.

Ken Rutherford, who captained New Zealand to that 1994 triumph at the Wanderers, is now living in Johannesburg and he believes his countryman are definitely the underdogs.

“On paper, New Zealand are clearly up against it. It will be a huge challenge against the world’s number one team. South Africa have half-a-dozen world-class players, while the current New Zealand team maybe just lacks a bit of star quality.

“South Africa have individuals who can take the game away from you. But New Zealand haven’t played good Test cricket for a while because they haven’t yet recognised that in one hour, someone can take the whole match away from you, they’re less able to spot those opportunities,” Rutherford said.

While the visiting batsmen should find the going relatively easy at Sahara Park Newlands – New Zealand scored 593 for eight declared (Stephen Fleming 262) in their last match there – Port Elizabeth, especially if it is cloudy, could be an entirely different prospect.

With a bit of grass on the pitch, Steyn, Morkel, Philander and Kallis will be out to break the Geneva Convention, but the visiting attack will also enjoy those conditions.

While the Black Caps are without second leading wicket-taker Dan Vettori, whose left-arm spin has frequently chained the South African batsmen down, Chris Martin has prospered against the Proteas before and is the leading wicket-taker in Tests between the two countries. Doug Bracewell has had his moments too, while Trent Boult and Tim Southee are two talented youngsters and Neil Wagner is returning to the country of his birth.

New Zealand’s batting will revolve around the ever-dangerous McCullum, while Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson are not to be underestimated. Their best batsman, Ross Taylor, is not touring however and his replacement, Peter Fulton, did not have a happy time in South Africa in 2005/6, scoring just 65 runs in four innings.


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