David Leggat on sport

David Leggat is a Herald sport writer

Cricket: Black Caps' battle against Sth Africa may be all uphill

By David Leggat

Despite success in Sri Lanka, changes needed to test side.

Auckland's Colin Munro is a good bet for the T20 side against South Africa. Photo / Greg Bowker
Auckland's Colin Munro is a good bet for the T20 side against South Africa. Photo / Greg Bowker

On paper, and even player for player, it looks like a desperately one-sided contest.

South Africa, the world No 1, in two tests on their patch next month. New Zealand, No 8, no chance?

But wait - they did win their most recent test, setting aside all the travails on their travels through the West Indies, India and Sri Lanka, at least until they reached Colombo last month.

And they did match the world No 1 side for chunks of their three-test series last season, even if they failed to do it for sustained periods.

Straws may be being firmly grasped at, and New Zealand may arrive a disjointed, disgruntled outfit swapping captains, perhaps, between the T20 and test legs of the tour. Still, glasses must be at least half full before setting foot on the plane.

Cape Town's form line is for piles of runs with turn coming into play over the last couple of days. Write off the 47 all out of Australia last year as an aberration. Port Elizabeth can be a mixed bag; limp and sluggish is not beyond the bounds of possibility.

Changes from the Sri Lankan test group are needed. James Franklin's time is up, in the longest form. Dean Brownlie, with his horizontal bat ability and centuries under his belt, deserves another opportunity.

BJ Watling could give batting back-up and breathe down wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk's neck. The little man needs a couple of strong performances.

Dan Vettori's absence with injury raises the question: do New Zealand need two spin bowlers? Yes, to allow for injury and give themselves a choice at Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

Todd Astle probably did enough in his debut in Colombo to demand a spot on the next trip. Offspinner Jeetan Patel is No 1 but must perform.

Which leaves five fast-medium bowlers, of whom three pick themselves - Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell, even if the latter probably needs a gentle rocket. Chris Martin's experience, plus a solid record against South Africa, is in his favour while Mark Gillespie is fit, lively and a proven top order wicket-taker.

Look for a surprise or two in the T20 squad. Auckland's belligerent Colin Munro is well worth a punt and perhaps Northern Districts' powerful young allrounder Corey Anderson. It's the easiest form of the game to integrate newcomers into.

Canterbury allrounder Andrew Ellis, a regular fixture in the shorter forms this year, is injured.


Possible squads for South Africa:

Test: Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Daniel Flynn, Dean Brownlie, Kruger van Wyk, BJ Watling, Todd Astle, Jeetan Patel, Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee, Mark Gillespie, Trent Boult, Chris Martin.

T20: Brendon McCullum, Guptill, Rob Nicol, Taylor, Kane Williamson, Watling, James Franklin, Colin Munro, Corey Anderson, Jacob Oram, Nathan McCullum, Ronnie Hira, Tim Southee, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne.

- NZ Herald

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