New Zealand in SA

ODIs: More misery for NZ?

2013-01-14 15:29
Brendon McCullum (Getty)
Cape Town – There is unlikely to be a huge amount of respite for battered New Zealand when they round off their South African tour with the three-match one-day international series starting in Paarl on Saturday (10:00 start).

Several of their bruised – certainly mentally, and in some instances physically – participants in the embarrassing Test series surrender have to try to lift themselves with some haste for the ODIs, made up of a daytime affair in the Boland and then successive day-nighters in Kimberley next Tuesday and Potchefstroom on the Friday.

Black Caps personalities are trying, understandably, to draw positives from the very switch from Test to limited-overs mode.

Commentator and former seam bowler Simon Doull said after the second Test ended well before lunch at St George’s Park on Monday with a crushing innings-and-193-run win for the remorseless Proteas: “The shorter the form of the game, the more New Zealand will be capable of competing.”

Meanwhile vanquished Test captain Brendon McCullum, among those players who must now make the switch of format, added: “One-day cricket is a little more to our liking at this stage of our abilities ... and the new guys (flown in for the ODIs) will bring some fresh enthusiasm, hopefully.”

At least in the likes of Kyle Mills, Rob Nicol and Nathan McCullum they will be infusing some customers with solid experience – Mills also brings a spot of welcome truculence -- in the ODI arena.

But at the same time, reasonably cowed characters like Trent Boult, Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Neil Wagner and Kane Williamson will only lock horns anew with Test-level tormentors of the calibre of Dale Steyn (a deserved choice for player of the match in Port Elizabeth with his match haul of eight for 65), Morne Morkel, AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, Graeme Smith, Robin Peterson and Rory Kleinveldt.

Nor are there are any special signs, it must be noted, of the Black Caps offering significantly greater competence in the 50-overs fixtures: there are actually ranked one slot lower (ninth) at present than they are at Test level – even Bangladesh are ahead in ODIs.

Nevertheless, the more compact forms of the game do tend to bring minnow nations rather closer to juggernauts, and it will still be reasonably fresh in many peeved South Africans’ minds that New Zealand dumped out the Proteas in a tetchy Dhaka quarter-final at the last World Cup in 2011.

The pitches for the ODI series ought to belters for the most part; Kimberley is especially renowned for being flat, sun-baked and batting-friendly and last season Sri Lanka successfully chased down a target of 300 with eight balls to spare against De Villiers’s side.

Frankly it really doesn’t suit South Africa’s own purposes very much, in terms of their reshaping plans for the next World Cup, if their quickies simply bomb the visitors into submission all over again and the batsmen don’t necessarily get subjected to enough pressure as a result.

Quietly, a better scenario for coach Gary Kirsten and his lieutenants would be for the New Zealanders to lift their game a few notches and have decent stints of ascendancy, even if a 3-0 sweep must be strongly on the minds of the Proteas squad at this stage.

Veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis is being wisely rested for this particular ODI series – he has little to prove after 321 caps in the format! – and he is joined in feet-up status for a few days by Alviro Petersen and Dean Elgar, fellow participants in the latest Test victory who can train their thoughts already to the stiffer Test series against new visitors Pakistan soon.

The first of three Tests (also featuring Newlands, Centurion) against the potentially dangerous, fourth-ranked Pakistanis begins at the Wanderers on February 1.

It is difficult to imagine Andrew Hudson’s national selection panel having a lengthy task in picking an initial Test squad for that series: there must be every chance that the current 14 (the team which won at St George’s Park, plus Jacques Rudolph, Ryan McLaren and presently injured Vernon Philander) will be returned en masse unless it is decided to trim it back to 13.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    new zealand  |  nz in sa  |  brendon mccullum  |  cricket
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