NZ ‘risking disaster’ against SA

2012-12-13 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Well-founded concern about the Black Caps’ ability to be competitive in the Test series against No. 1-ranked South Africa shortly is gathering steam in New Zealand.

Columnist Chris Rattue, writing in the New Zealand Herald yesterday, suggests the tourists are risking “one almighty disaster” in the two-Test venture and that “cricket stands on the brink” in that nation.

The writer also rues once more the absence of the Black Caps’ best batsman, Ross Taylor, saying that he is “starting to come across as a prima donna”.

Taylor is in dispute with coach Mike Hesson after being dumped as captain, and declared himself unavailable for the tour.

It is bad news as much for South African Test enthusiasts, who at least want worthy contests in the two-Test series beginning at Newlands on January 2.

Taylor is easily New Zealand’s best current batsman statistically with a Test average of 43,57.

Rattue added: “For sure, [Taylor] is a terrific cricketer who has been wronged by Hesson’s methods, but he doesn’t have a right to the national captaincy and there won’t be contract clauses saying he only plays if everything is hunky-dory.

“He’s been let down, but in turn he is letting the game, fans and team-mates down — big time.”

The eighth-ranked Black Caps, who have also not selected the domestically in-form but personal problem-plagued Jesse Ryder, look especially vulnerable with the bat for the task of taking on Dale Steyn and company.

They will place heavily reliance on the likes of new captain Brendon McCullum (at least a combative character, but Test average a moderate 35), Martin Guptill (average 32) and Kane Williamson (also average 32) for their runs.

On New Zealand’s last Test tour to these shores, in 2007/08, they were clobbered 2-0 with defeats at the Wanderers (by 358 runs) and Centurion (by an innings and 59 runs) despite fielding an altogether more street-wise line-up then.

The Proteas’ attack has probably only got friskier since then, while the Black Caps have subsequently shed such experienced names from their midst as Stephen Fleming, Scott Styris, Jacob Oram, Dan Vettori (injured), Shane Bond, Lou Vincent … and now also Taylor.

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