South Africa v NZ Preview

Last time New Zealand visited the Republic it was a disastrous tour with a full team’s worth of players coming down with assorted injuries and they were absolutely outclassed by the home side, with many memorable milestones for South Africa such as Allan Donald’s 300th test wicket and Boeta Dippenaar’s maiden test century early in his career. This time though the New Zealand bowling attack is somewhat stronger than the likes of Kerry Walmsley and Brooke Walker, and a much closer series is expected.

In the last series between the two teams in New Zealand in early 2004, New Zealand won the ODI series 4-1. But, like New Zealand compared to 2000, South Africa has a much stronger team now. Dippenaar has become a world-class ODI batsman, Smith’s captaincy has come along in leaps and bounds and AB de Villiers is a bright prospect to say the least.

Major points of interest in the series include the first real challenge for Shane Bond in his comeback from injury (since a weak Zimbabwean lineup and an Indian side widely considered to have a weakness against pace proved no challenge for him last month), the clash of the two young star batsmen in de Villiers and Hamish Marshall (although the latter is struggling for form), the possible return to ODI cricket of Lance Klusener, and with New Zealand’s death bowling problems the prospect of Justin Kemp unleashing some of his late innings hitting.

The eagerly anticipated tour begins with two matches between the tourists and South Africa A, before a Twenty20 international on the 21st shortly followed by five ODIs. New Zealand return in April to complete the tour with three tests, after the series was split to lighten South Africa’s workload in the coming months.

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