By RICHARD BOOCK
Whatever else the South African squad might lack during their one-day series against New Zealand, there should at least be no shortage of confidence.
Among the 15-man touring squad named yesterday are several of New Zealand's biggest nemeses, a few world X1 candidates, a couple of bright hopes and exciting fast-bowler Mfuneko Ngam.
Ngam has been recalled to the side after an injury-ridden, three-year layoff, having originally made his debut against New Zealand in 2000, when he bowled in excess of 150km/h.
The prospect of Ngam teaming up with fellow black fast-bowler Makhaya Ntini is sure to provide a boost for South Africa's "N-power" image, not to mention a serious challenge for the New Zealand top-order batting.
Having just rid themselves of the problematic Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami, the home batsmen can now look forward to the pace of Ngam and Ntini, and the persistence of Shaun Pollock.
For all that, the New Zealand bowlers may well be sleeping even less during the days leading up to the series, after confirmation that some of their worst nightmares would be revisiting them, including Lance Klusener, Nicky Boje and Mark Boucher.
Of the three, Klusener has been the most destructive in 23 ODIs against New Zealand, smashing 498 runs at 55.33 and with a strike-rate well into three figures.
It was Klusener who wrenched the one-day series his team's way when South Africa last toured in 1998-99, clobbering Dion Nash for a match-winning six off the last ball of the game at Napier.
And he repeated the dose when New Zealand returned to South Africa in 2000, striking a whirlwind 59 not out in the sixth one-dayer at Cape Town, and winning the game with a boundary off the final ball.
Boje, for someone who was supposed to be a left-arm spinner, has shocked the New Zealanders in his role as floating batsman to the extent he can now boast a batting average of 79.20 from 17 games, including two centuries.
The only consolation for New Zealand is that the 30-year-old broke his ankle in a one-day international against England last July, and has played only one match this summer.
Boucher, despite batting at No 8 and 9 for most of his career, has an average of 38.25 against New Zealand, including three consecutive half- centuries in the 2000 VB Series, the quickest of which came off just 27 balls.
South Africa play New Zealand in six one-dayers, the first in Auckland on Friday week, before beginning a three-match test series.
Batsmen Boeta Dippenaar and Ashwell Prince, left-arm spinner Robin Peterson, and Klusener will return home after the one-day series and will be replaced by left-arm wrist spinner Paul Adams and batsmen Gary Kirsten, Neil McKenzie and Martin van Jaarsveld for the test series.
All-rounder Albie Morkel is the only uncapped player in the squad of 15 named for the one-dayers.
Graeme Smith (capt), Mark Boucher, Nicky Boje, Boeta Dippenaar, Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis, Lance Klusener, Albie Morkel, Mfuneko Ngam, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Robin Peterson, Shaun Pollock, Ashwell Prince, Jacques Rudolph.
By RICHARD BOOCK