Colin Munro. Photo by Getty
James Franklin's misfortune is Colin Munro's good luck,
with the Auckland allrounder to make his test debut against the
country of his birth tonight.
And in another, unforced, change, Neil Wagner has replaced
veteran Chris Martin in a three-pronged fast-medium attack in
which two bowl with the left arm.
Franklin strained a hamstring bowling in the nets on
Wednesday and is expected to be sidelined for a few days.
However, he is expected to be fit for the three-game ODI
series to follow the second and final test.
Munro, born in Durban but who moved to New Zealand with his
family at age 15, makes his debut batting at No 7 and
offering some back up medium pace.
Growing up Munro admitted playing for New Zealand wasn't part
of his cricketing dreams. He relished graduating into the
South African team.
"But after going through the (New Zealand) age groups and
playing for New Zealand at under 19 level I got a taste for
it," he said.
"Playing for New Zealand is a great honour."
His ambition out of the match is simple: "A win, that's all.
It would be massive, and secondly would be contributing to
He reckons he's seeing the ball well, and he has been
plundering domestic runs for Auckland but "obviously it's a
huge step and time will tell whether I'm ready for test
Munro is expecting some verbal advice from the South African
players and plenty of short pitched bowling. But he's a solid
horizontal shot maker which could stand him in good stead.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum likes the 25-year-old's
"He plays the game with a free spirit and has earned the
right to be in the squad. We think at No 7 in the line-up he
could be quite counter-attacking for us."
Wagner, born in Pretoria, has already played two tests in the
West Indies last year, picking up four expensive wickets.
He owes his selection to two factors: he's been impressive in
the nets in the last few days and his ability to reverse
swing the old ball on a St George's Park pitch which is
expected to rough up the ball.
"Chris got the first opportunity and did an okay job,"
"Whilst he got three wickets later in the test and bowled
reasonably well, we felt the more aggressive option of Neil,
especially with the potentially drying pitch would serve us
better to try and even up the series."
As McCullum put it: "All roads pointed to Neil in this test."
"He's a lovely guy, and plays the game hard on the field. We
expect him to play extremely hard especially being from South
Africa himself. We're confident he'll turn out and put in a
really good performance."
There is one other conundrum for McCullum and the coaching
staff to consider. Left arm spinner Bruce Martin is in the
12, as is offspinner Jeetan Patel.
If their reading of the pitch before the toss is that it
might break up relatively early in the match, they could play
both spinners. But McCullum made it clear Patel is first
The hope is that the rough created by left armers Trent Boult
and Wagner will give Patel some assistance.
Patel's lame batting down the order in the first test at Cape
Town wasn't a factor, McCullum said.
"He didn't exactly cover himself in glory in the last innings
but he wasn't the only one.
"Ultimately Jeetan is a bowler and if we can take some of the
sting out of their attack then our lower order won't be
exposed to quite the same extreme circumstances as they were
in the last test."
New Zealand must win the test to square the series with the
world No 1 test team.
The hosts have made only one change, Vernon Philander's
hamstring strain ruling him out, his place going to Rory
It's a small mercy for New Zealand's batsmen, but they hope
the anticipated lower bounce, and slower pace of the St
George's Park pitch will help reduce the effectiveness in
terms of hostility of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and
South Africa have lost their last three tests in Port
Elizabeth, so they feel a sense of wanting to get back to
They are expecting much more from New Zealand in conditions
they believe will be most akin to those back home for the
Wagner will stay on for the ODI series against South Africa
as a replacement for Central Districts bowler Adam Milne.
He has had a recurrence of a lower leg injury and is unable
to bowl without pain. Further assessment is required to
determine the severity of the injury.
Already Wellington veteran Grant Elliott is joining the squad
for the 50-over series as a replacement for injured Northern
Districts' allrounder Corey Anderson.