Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – South Africa’s bowlers,
particularly, will be almost entirely rookies to local conditions when the
Proteas face their next Test-series challenge, in New Zealand fairly shortly.
They have not toured that country since
2003/04, and even spearhead Dale Steyn, boasting a combined total of more than
100 Test and one-day international caps, cannot boast a single one yet in the
Land of the Long White Cloud.
The only bowler with prior knowledge of
bowling in Tests in New Zealand will almost certainly be veteran all-rounder
Jacques Kallis, although at least several of the likely batsmen – including
captain Graeme Smith, Kallis, Jacques Rudolph and wicketkeeper Mark Boucher –
will be less unfamiliar with the environment.
Fortunately the various one-day assignments
are contested first, allowing several of the South African players to adapt in
that arena before the three-Test series starts in early March.
The Proteas shared the series 1-1 in
2003/04, and the attack for the final Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington
featured Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel and Nicky Boje as the
specialists – all are well out of the picture now.
Smith conceded to Sport24 after the
series-winning Test triumph over Sri Lanka at Newlands on Friday that 2004 was
“a long time back” in cricketing terms.
“New Zealand’s always an interesting place
to tour; a different dynamic in terms of playing on some rugby fields, drop-in
pitches and so on.
“Last time we were there, training
facilities also weren’t as good as maybe other real cricketing nations,
although from what I hear they’ve improved drastically.
“They’re a very street-smart team and they
know how to win at home, so we need to be able to adapt on our feet.
“Weather conditions play a big part there,
from blustery winds to big changes from cold to warm.
“We need to (depend) on guys like Jakes (Kallis)
and the others who’ve been there before, for the experience they can bring.
We’ll have to be able to adapt our skills, and playing accordingly is a key to
winning in New Zealand.”
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing