Cricket: Black Caps bowlers get workout

Trent Boult had been itching to get into action since arriving in South Africa.

The left arm swingman wasn't required for any of the three Twenty20s, so it wasn't until the 12-a-side warmup match against a young South African Invitation XI in Paarl that the Northern Districts bowler marked out his run up anywhere other than in the nets.

He picked up 2-46 from 15 overs yesterday as the bowlers got through some work in unhelpful conditions on a flat lifeless pitch while the Invitation XI ran up 274-6, in reply to New Zealand's 311-6 on the first day.

In the modern vernacular, it was an exercise in building up bowlers' loads, with possible test selection in mind. So Chris Martin and Neil Wagner also completed 15 overs, while spinners Jeetan Patel and Bruce Martin bowled 19 and 17 respectively.

The Invitation XI openers Rassie van der Dussen and Matthew Kleinvelt put on 161, giving an indication of the difficulty of the bowlers' job.

"It was a testing day for the bowling group but something we needed," Boult said, acknowledging things will be much different when the first test starts in a few days.

"It was hard to try and put into play a game plan going into the first test on a lot bouncier wicket, but the guys were making the most of what was in front of them.

"It's all about grooving yourself and getting ready as best we can."

The makeup of New Zealand's first test side won't become clear for at least another day. But most likely two seamers, one spinner and one batsman will sit it out.

Auckland batsman Colin Munro will get to spend the entire New Zealand tour in the land of his birth.

Munro is in the test squad, replacing luckless Peter Fulton, who has pulled out with a tendon injury in his right knee.

Munro played in the T20s, and is in the ODI squad to follow the tests.

"Peter played yesterday in an effort to determine whether the injury would affect his batting," team physiotherapist Paul Close said.

"By the end of his innings (of 39) the pain was significant and it became clear that the injury would prevent him from playing a full range of shots."

New Zealand will also be hoping Fulton's Canterbury teammate Dean Brownlie is fully over the stomach bug, which he picked up late last week.

And lest anyone wonder if South Africa are a touch complacent ahead of the two-test series, their busy training schedule leading up to the first test should help dispel that notion.

South Africa have lost a test at home in every one of their last five series, going back to the visit by lowly Bangladesh in 2008-09.

They have been beaten by Australia (in two series), England, India and Sri Lanka since then. A crumb or two of hope for New Zealand perhaps, as they prepare for a battle in which the odds are heavily against them.

- David Leggat of the New Zealand Herald in Cape Town