Durban - South Africa may well be entering their three-match Twenty20 (T20) international series against New Zealand as overwhelming favourites but Proteas coach Russell Domingo said that there would be no underestimating the tourist’s abilities.
According to the supersport.com website, New Zealand have brought a relatively inexperienced squad to South Africa with five uncapped players but the team showed that they would not be pushovers after they beat South Africa ‘A’ by 24 runs in a T20 warm-up match on Tuesday.
Domingo, who is standing in for regular coach Gary Kirsten, said that New Zealand’s win over South Africa ‘A’ showed what the Black Caps are capable of.
Gallery: Proteas practice session
“There was never going to be an issue of complacency because New Zealand are a dangerous side. In my mind yesterday’s result has very little bearing on what will happen (in the series) because we knew New Zealand would be tough opposition for us,” Domingo told a news conference on Wednesday.
“We were probably fortunate to win our T20 series in New Zealand (earlier this year). We were one-all and at the last game at Eden Park they needed 14 off 19 balls and they ended up losing the game. It was a series that they probably should have won. We know that there is very little between the two sides, particularly in this format of the game,” he added.
The first match of the T20 series is in Durban on Friday and it gives South Africa a chance to improve their T20 ranking. The Proteas are currently ranked fifth in the world in the shortest form of the game, a far cry from their impressive Test form which has seen them established at the world’s top-ranked five-day side.
Domingo said that one of team management’s aims was to tap into the success of the Test team in an effort to boost the Proteas’ limited-overs form.
“The Test culture that has developed over the last few years is something that we are striving to take through into the shorter formats. It’s not going to happen overnight, it is not something that we can do over three or four days.
“It will be a process but we are feeding it through in small drips at the moment. We are trying to incorporate bits of the Test side while also doing some things a little bit differently because it is a different group of players, you need to manage the younger players differently.
“The longer we have together, the more information we will be able to provide these younger guys as to how things run in the national side,” he explained.
Domingo said that it was ‘exciting’ to be going into his first international series as head coach but he also praised the work that new captain Faf du Plessis was doing off the field.
“Faf has captained the SA ‘A’ side. He was captain of AB de Villiers at Affies so he has those leadership skills. He has been in that role at various levels. We will find ways of meeting each other halfway and of making decisions together. Our relationship as captain and coach is still in its infancy and it will need to develop. But we get on really well and we both have similar thoughts on the game and how it needs to be played. I’ve been very pleased with what he has offered so far,” he said.
New Zealand’s bowling coach, Shane Bond, said that the Black Caps could take heart from their performance against South Africa ‘A’.
“It was good. We have a new group and it’s a challenge but I can’t fault the attitude of the guys,” said Bond.
One player who impressed against SA ‘A’ was uncapped left-arm quick Mitchell McClenaghan, who captured 3-19 off his four overs and Bond, a formidable paceman himself during his playing career, said that he had been pleased by McClenaghan’s performance.
“He was pretty nervous before the game as you would be playing your first game for your country but he just kept things simple and bowled aggressively and ran in and tried to bowl fast,” said Bond.