South Africa's Dale Steyn is congratulated by team mates
after dismissing Australia's Mike Hussey. REUTERS/Stringer
On paper, and even player for player, it looks like a
desperately one-sided contest.
South Africa, the world No 1, in two tests on their patch
next month. New Zealand, No 8, no chance?
But wait - they did win their most recent test, setting aside
all the travails on their travels through the West Indies,
India and Sri Lanka, at least until they reached Colombo last
And they did match the world No 1 side for chunks of their
three-test series last season, even if they failed to do it
for sustained periods.
Straws may be being firmly grasped at, and New Zealand may
arrive a disjointed, disgruntled outfit swapping captains,
perhaps, between the T20 and test legs of the tour. Still,
glasses must be at least half full before setting foot on the
Cape Town's form line is for piles of runs with turn coming
into play over the last couple of days. Write off the 47 all
out of Australia last year as an aberration. Port Elizabeth
can be a mixed bag; limp and sluggish is not beyond the
bounds of possibility.
Changes from the Sri Lankan test group are needed. James
Franklin's time is up, in the longest form. Dean Brownlie,
with his horizontal bat ability and centuries under his belt,
deserves another opportunity.
BJ Watling could give batting back-up and breathe down
wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk's neck. The little man needs a
couple of strong performances.
Dan Vettori's absence with injury raises the question: do New
Zealand need two spin bowlers? Yes, to allow for injury and
give themselves a choice at Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
Todd Astle probably did enough in his debut in Colombo to
demand a spot on the next trip. Offspinner Jeetan Patel is No
1 but must perform.
Which leaves five fast-medium bowlers, of whom three pick
themselves - Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell,
even if the latter probably needs a gentle rocket. Chris
Martin's experience, plus a solid record against South
Africa, is in his favour while Mark Gillespie is fit, lively
and a proven top order wicket-taker.
Look for a surprise or two in the T20 squad. Auckland's
belligerent Colin Munro is well worth a punt and perhaps
Northern Districts' powerful young allrounder Corey Anderson.
It's the easiest form of the game to integrate newcomers
Canterbury allrounder Andrew Ellis, a regular fixture in the
shorter forms this year, is injured.