Chris Martin. Photo Reuters
The last time New Zealand played in Port Elizabeth, Chris
Martin was just starting a test career now entering its 13th
He's the only survivor from that seven-wicket loss in 2000
among the New Zealand squad trying against huge odds to
square the two-test series starting at St George's Park on
The country's third-highest test wicket taker with 233,
Martin took five wickets in the second test in a career 71
matches old. South African veteran Jacques Kallis is the only
other player still going around from that match, his
contribution being 12 and 23.
The word on the pitch here is that it's likely to be slower
than Cape Town and tend towards the lower side in the bounce
Martin's recollections of the only other game he's played at
the ground are dim.
"It was on my first tour and my wheels would have been
spinning and I probably can't really remember the track," the
lean 38-year-old said.
"I remember it being pretty slow and, if you bowled a dead or
soft length, then it sat up nicely to get hit. You learn
quite a lot on those wickets and the bowlers will have to
work a lot harder to get their wickets."
There's been no test played at St Georges since 2007. Of the
23 played in the city since 1889, South Africa have won only
eight and lost 11 so it hasn't exactly been a banker of a
venue for the home team.
One of New Zealand's most successful overseas tours, to South
Africa in 1961-62, ended in a series-levelling 40-run win on
New Zealand have had a recent look at the ground, however. It
was the venue for the third and final T20 game last month,
which South Africa won by 33 runs.
It didn't look like a five-day pitch, but then groundsmen go
about their preparations for different versions of the game
in different ways.
"It looked pretty dry," was Martin's assessment.
He is among a group of bowlers trying to simulate as best
they can what New Zealand's batsmen will face this week.
The innings defeat in Cape Town, which featured the
embarrassing 45 all out in the first innings, gave them a
good insight into the relentlessness and pace of the South
The nets obviously can't replicate the experience of coping
with Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel,
respectively the world No 1, 2 and 8-ranked bowlers.
"It's very hard to imagine facing Steyn and Morkel and
Philander in the nets but, as a group of bowlers, we're
trying to lift the ante against our batsmen to make sure they
get what they need out of training with a little bit more
hostility and aggression," Martin said.
"Overall you can walk away from a training if you've trained
like that and feel more ready to deal with the fight.".
That Cape Town test was over before tea on day three. So days
four and five involved tough training sessions to at least
"You've got to expect to turn up on day four and five and put
in the hard yards," Martin said. "Turning up and giving quite
a lot in the nets has been beneficial and also gives the guys
an understanding of how much more work they need to do to get
those games going into the last day.
"Now we know the challenge, intensity and attitude we bring
to training has to be as close to a test match as possible."
Meanwhile, although all is progressing smoothly for world No
1 South Africa on the field, it's not entirely plain sailing
Cricket South Africa's acting president Willie Basson is
tipped to resign next week after his alleged involvement in
South Africa's apartheid era chemical warfare project was
A new CSA board is to be appointed next month and there is a
dispute over the makeup of the board.
Recommendations from the Nicholson Inquiry into the running
of cricket in the country last year called for five
independent directors on an 11-member board.
But the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic
Committee - the governing body for the country's sporting
codes - is unhappy with that breakdown. They don't want that
many independents and don't want an independent chair as the
Nicholson recommendations stipulate.
- David Leggat of the New Zealand Herald in Port