Cricket: Black Caps watch TV in bid to beat SA

By Michael Brown

South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis. Photo / Getty Images
South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis. Photo / Getty Images

The New Zealand cricketers are heading so much into the unknown against an experimental South African Twenty20 outfit that they have taken to watching local television in an effort to learn more about their opposition.

The South African Twenty20 side is vastly different to the one that will line up for the two tests against New Zealand early next month, and Black Caps' bowling coach Shane Bond admitted they knew little about some of the players they will face in the shortest format of the game.

With five new players in the New Zealand squad and a couple of others with limited international experience, South Africa will be in a similar situation.

The two sides square off in the first of three Twenty20 internationals in Durban on Saturday morning (NZT) and South Africa will be without test mainstays Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers as they experiment somewhat in the hope of improving their Twenty20 ranking of No 5.

Only new captain Faf du Plessis and bowlers Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn and Robin Peterson are recognised test and one-day players, although many New Zealand fans will remember opening batsman Richard Levi, who blasted 117 off 51 balls at Seddon Park earlier this year.

"We got little bits of footage from the Champions League, so there's a chance to sit down and have a look at some of the guys," Bond said. "But they footage isn't vast so we are lucky we have [South African sports channel] SuperSport. We have been flicking through the seven channels and having a look at the range of what's going on and it's given us a little bit more insight.

"We have a little bit [of footage] but for some of our guys it's just about getting on the field and using your instincts and getting a really quick feel and adjusting quickly. That's what Twenty20 is about - summing up the conditions and the opposition pretty quickly and hopefully playing well."

South African coach Russell Domingo, who is standing in for regular coach Gary Kirsten, said New Zealand's 24-run win over South Africa A yesterday showed what the Black Caps are capable of.

"There was never going to be an issue of complacency because New Zealand are a dangerous side," Domingo told reporters in Durban. "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."

It's likely they will have done some of their own scouting in an effort to learn more about the likes of Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell McClenaghan, Corey Anderson, Derek de Boorder and Colin Munro.

For that reason, and the fact Twenty20 cricket could turn very quickly on the back of one individual, Bond felt both sides would go into the series reasonably level.

"Both of the sides probably don't know a lot about each other so, in terms of that element, I wouldn't say a psychological advantage rests with either side. It's just going to be about who plays the best cricket who is going to win.

"I think T20 is the most even format. It's not often teams continually win game after game after game in T20 because it only take one player to have a good day."

McClenaghan was one of the players who had a good day yesterday when he snared three for 19 off his four overs in an explosive spell of fast bowling and Munro chimed in with 39 from 27 balls. The New Zealand team will hope a few more have good days over the coming weeks.

- APNZ

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