South Africa's formidable fast-bowling trio of Dale
Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Steyn got high praise for
their handiwork from New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum after
the three-day test at Newlands today.
They combined to skittle New Zealand for just 45 in the first
100 minutes of the match, then shared a further six wickets
in the second innings of 275, which set up an innings and
"It's up there, that's for sure," McCullum said when asked if
they were the best he'd come across.
"Australia's attack of a few years ago [headed by Glenn
McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee] was pretty
relentless. But the South Africans keep coming hard at you
and constantly put you under pressure. Their seam attack is
right up there and certainly No 1 attack in the world."
Steyn took his 300th wicket in the match, and 50th against
New Zealand in his ninth test.
He took five wickets in the match, Morne Morkel
four-and-man-of-the-match Vernon Philander finished with
seven for 83 in the game.
McCullum understandably felt New Zealand had made a far
better fist of handling those three bowlers in the second
innings. His team's job now is to pick the good bits out of
an awful test, and turn them into elements which they can
turn to their advantage leading up to the second and final
test, which starts at Port Elizabeth on Friday.
South African captain Graeme Smith praised the resilience
within his squad.
"The biggest thing is the understanding of what needs to be
done, then going and doing it," he said. "We've worked our
backsides off to get back into games and when we had that
opportunity we've really driven a bus through the door."
He had expected New Zealand to put up a far more resolute
effort in their second innings than the first, to "really
guts it out".
"They showed good discipline. They were fairly defensive in
their mindset but I thought we bowled really well."
McCullum was left to rue the failure of New Zealand to push
the game into at least a fourth day at one of the finest
grounds in world cricket.
"We don't tend to get to play in front of packed houses, but
it was a real treat. It was amazing, especially with quite a
young group. It's a special ground and it would have been
nice to have had days four and five in front of a weekend
South Africa have rewarded their players by sending them home
for an unexpected three days off.
New Zealand head to Port Elilzabeth on Tuesday, after a
period of hard thinking about what had just happened, and
what lies ahead.
- By David Leggat of the New Zealand Herald in Cape