New Zealand arrive in South Africa as the world’s second worst Test side, the worst ODI team out of those playing Test cricket regularly, and their best batsman has accused management of lying regarding his dismissal as captain while deciding to stay in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
Sounds like the recipe for a massacre.
With South Africa shiny from their series triumph in Australia, they could not have been served a more tantalising and tasty entree then the Black Caps. They were the team that Hashim Amla scored his first international century (149 in Cape Town in 2006), and the first team Dale Steyn took a fifer (5-47 at Centurion in 2006) and 10-wicket match haul (10-93 in Johannesburg in 2007) against.
It would not be strange if history repeated itself.
On the bright side, expectations of Brendon McCullum’s team are so low that anything but a white wash in each format will be viewed with some positivity. They have bowlers like Tim Southee and Trent Boult who know how to use the swinging ball, however it is their batting lineup that will be in serious danger of being gutted inside out by South Africa’s rampant seam bowling attack.
For South Africa, arrogance and complacency are the main risks against a team they have never lost a Test series to. Gary Kirsten, being the shrewd master of men that is, will surely eliminate all such thoughts.
On a different note, Steyn is one wicket away from the magical 300. It is remarkable Steyn, who will surely become the third quickest to the mark when the teams square off in the New Years Test in Cape Town, has not experienced the severe injury problems that have troubled other quick bowlers around the world.
His man-management, like Jacques Kallis, has been exemplary. He stands on the cusp of history, as he prepares to be the fourth South African to pass 300 Test wickets after his former opening partners Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini and his current bowling coach, Allan Donald.