Proteas talk up Black Caps
Wellington - Faf du Plessis and Robin Peterson are doing their best to market New Zealand's upcoming cricket tour of South Africa despite widespread scepticism in the Republic.
According to stuff.co.nz website
, the chasm between the two teams in the rankings for all three formats has been exacerbated by the fact New Zealand's best batsman, Ross Taylor, will not tour after the debacle which saw him stripped of the limited overs captaincy and then turn down the Test captaincy after falling out with coach Mike Hesson.
New Zealand may have won their last Test in Sri Lanka - Taylor scored more than 200 runs in the victory, it should be remembered - but their results during the past 12 months have generally been dreadful whereas the Proteas are fresh from defending their No 1 test ranking in Australia.
The two teams will meet in three Twenty20 games, two Tests and three one-day internationals between December 21 and January 25 and South Africa's governing body are concerned that tickets won't sell.
However, du Plessis, a star with the bat in Australia, and left-arm spinner Peterson were doing their best to talk up the tourists in comments published on sportlive.co.za.
"We only won the Test series in New Zealand 1-0 (in March) - we didn't walk all over them," Du Plessis said.
"That shows we will still have to play good cricket.
"There are one or two teams who are a little bit easier to play against, but most of them have some quality players."
Peterson is used to delivering spin, though he usually does it with his left arm, not his words.
"It's more high profile playing against Australia, but New Zealand beat Sri Lanka [in the second Test to level the series] in Sri Lanka recently - they're no mugs," he insisted.
"They're not going to lie down and let us walk all over them. It's still going to be tough and we're still going to have to put in the hard work."
New Zealand are scheduled to arrive in South Africa this week under new captain Brendon McCullum and much has been made in South Africa of Taylor's absence, as well as that of Daniel Vettori, who is injured.
Between them, Taylor and Vettori have 155 Test caps, which is almost half the 324 that the entire squad's experience adds up to without them. Local media are also quick to point out the pair have scored a combined 7784 Test runs for New Zealand.
"If you take your foot off the gas, you are not justifying your No 1 ranking," Du Plessis said.
"If you look at how the Aussies played when they were No 1, they were unbelievable, they just kept drilling teams.
"If we want to be like them and stay on top, we have to make sure that we play to our potential - whoever we play against."
That's an ominous sign for New Zealand.