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Proteas can only embrace mystery tag for so long before Kiwis pounce

Neil Brand, who will captain the Proteas in the first Test against New Zealand starting at 12am, SA time, on Sunday.
Neil Brand, who will captain the Proteas in the first Test against New Zealand starting at 12am, SA time, on Sunday.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

New Zealand captain Tim Southee has admitted his team has been unable to do much research about the Proteas players they will be facing in the first Test on Sunday because very little video data exists. 

“It's a little bit of the unknown. They played a three-day game at Lincoln, which we got footage from, and we've managed to scrape around and find some footage,” Southee said on Saturday, where his and the South African team’s preparations were hampered by rain in Mt Maunganui. 

Expectations are high that New Zealand will make history over the next fortnight and become the first team from that country to win a Test series against South Africa. The Proteas, who will be led by Neil Brand, one of eight players in the 15-man squad with no Test experience, were forced to select a team devoid of household names because of a stipulation by Cricket South Africa that all the nationally contracted players would only play in the SA20. 

It has left New Zealand, normally such efficient researchers when it comes to the opposition, in a quandary, though Southee said attention with his group had quickly turned to how they would deliver their best performance.

“We approach every Test match the same. We prepare the way we want to prepare and a lot of focus shifts to what we're doing.

“With the unknown opposition, that highlights that [approach] even more. We address what we do as a side and the way we want to play over the next five days,” Southee stated.

New Zealand, from what I’ve heard, aren't arrogant people, I’m sure they will have their heads on properly for this series.
Neil Brand

Brand said the South Africans were embracing the mystery tag, though it wasn’t a significant advantage. “Hopefully they are surprised by what they see, in a good way,” he commented. 

“There are some very good players in that (SA) dressing room. I’m pretty sure a few of the guys will still be in the side in a few months time. David Bedingiham, who made his Test debut against India, is playing beautifully. I’m sure the New Zealand public and even people back home will be pleasantly surprised by them.”

He wasn’t expecting the Black Caps to take them lightly based on the absence of South Africa's star players. “New Zealand, from what I’ve heard, aren't arrogant people, I’m sure they will have their heads on properly for this series. I’ve seen Kane (Williamson) say they won’t be taking us lightly, it will be a tough series for us and we will have to do extremely well to compete with them,” said Brand. 

Both captains acknowledged that Saturday’s rain meant they wouldn’t be finalising their starting teams until Sunday morning. “It looked green (Friday) and it's been covered today, so we’ll wait and see. We do have an idea of our team, but we’ll finalise (on Sunday) morning,” said Brand.


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