Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum (R) and coach Mike
Hesson attend a press conference in Durban, South Africa.
(Photo by Anesh Debiky / Gallo Images/Getty Images)
New Zealand need to beware a giant pratfall when they
start their South African tour against a national A team in
Pietermaritzburg late tonight.
Things are going to be testing enough when the real contests
begin, starting with the opening T20 in Durban on Saturday.
Given the backdrop to the tour, there are plenty predicting
all manner of indignities about to be foisted on Brendon
Therefore it is critical they at least get off on the right
note in their T20 kickoff against a team possessing one
international player, Justin Ontong, and a handful of others
pressing to enhance rising reputations.
From New Zealand's perspective, that's no bad thing either.
There's little point in an easy romp ahead of the high
hurdles around the corner.
The makeup of New Zealand's squad also begs a question.
It's all well and good promoting a trio of young middle-order
hitters in Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham and Corey Anderson -
all swing a solid, effective bat in the short game - not to
mention have a fast-medium attack in which Doug Bracewell is
the senior figure.
But once Ross Taylor withdrew, and Tim Southee, Dan Vettori
and Jacob Oram were ruled out for various reasons, there must
have been a case for getting an extra older head or two in
the group. A case in point being Kyle Mills, who took five
Canterbury wickets yesterday, or Kane Williamson for that
matter. Not required, said the selectors.
Don't be surprised to see the XI chosen for tonight backing
up again in the opening T20. That is the norm, to at least
get them into work before the first big contest.
Bet on McCullum wanting to assert himself at the first
Fair enough too. This is a daunting challenge, but he's
always appealed as a player who likes to take on those
sitting at the top table.
He has labelled the tour as "a really exciting time" for the
"We're going to find out a lot about the new guys in the next
little while," he said.
McCullum is over discussing who is not on tour, and preparing
to work with what he has at his disposal.
"From a leadership point of view, we've got to find a way to
use the resources we do have, rather than focus on what we
don't have," he said.
NZ v South Africa A, Pietermaritzburg, midnight
New Zealand squad: (from) Brendon McCullum (c), Rob Nicol,
Martin Guptill, Peter Fulton, James Franklin, Corey Anderson,
Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Nathan McCullum, Derek de
Boorder, Ronnie Hira, Doug Bracewell, Trent Boult, Mitchell
McClenaghan, Michael Bates.
South Africa A squad: Justin Ontong (c), Kyle Abbott, Craig
Alexander, Davy Jacobs, Mangaliso Mosehle, Aaron Phangiso,
Roelof van der Merwe, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Stiaan van Zyl,
Dane Vilas, Hardus Viljoen, David Wiese.
- David Leggat