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SA vs NZ : An underwhelming tour

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South_Africa_New Zealand_World_Cup_2015_semi_finalThere’s lots to be jubilant about, and a bit to be disappointed in when looking at the New Zealand tour of South Africa. The T20Is ended 1-1 while South Africa clinched the 3-match ODI series 2-1.

The final and most important ODI of the tour saw South Africa win by 62 runs and officially replaced New Zealand as the third ranked ODI team, but only a single point separates the two.

The 2-1 victory gave South Africa their World Cup revenge. However, a home series and the World Cup setting are two very different ball games. South Africa are happy with the result, ever since the defeat in Bangladesh. Thank goodness for the final match, because the first and second ODIs were slow and boring even though Hashim Amla and Martin Guptill scored centuries.

Although New Zealand were without Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor, Tim Southee and Trent Boult, they held their own. They did not falter just because their side was a little second-string. Instead, they challenged South Africa and did all they could to hold on to the number 3 ranking, and not lose the momentum they brought with them coming from the series victory in Zimbabwe.

New Zealand’s top order batsmen scored runs from the start and their bowlers were dangerous with the new ball. In contrast, South Africa struggled to score runs and lost wickets in the powerplays. In the final ODI, the teams switched roles. That’s how South Africa was able to win the match and ultimately the series.

It was not a high scoring series. None of the batsmen reached 200+ runs even though Tom Latham (178) and Amla (176) came close. Even the wicket takers were not lucky in their department as Imran Tahir, Adam Milne and David Wiese took a paltry 5 wickets each.

South Africans have been eagerly awaiting for AB de Villiers to reach 8,000 ODI runs. In the final ODI, he became the fastest batsman to reach the milestone, achieving it just in 182 innings, 18 fewer than Sourav Ganguly. Now let’s see how many innings it will take him to reach 9,000 runs.

In the final ODI the tables were turned, South Africa produced the goods. They scored runs upfront and gave the New Zealand bowlers a bit of a headache. When New Zealand began chasing down the target, Guptill went early and even though they tried to keep up with the run rate, eventually things went south.

 

According to Kepler Wessels, a total of 16 catches were dropped by both teams. The tour should have been summarised as “the tour of dropped catches”, when even decent fielders ended up with butter fingers.

Going back to the T20Is, there was no entertainment whatsoever. The public wasn’t calling for an IPL type series, but they did expect an abundance of entertainment. For instance, illuminating wickets brings an extra Zing (no pun intended) to the match. Yes, the Zing Wicket System is expensive but it is gorgeous. Besides, it makes it easier for the third umpire to make a decision on whether the player is out, if he is stumped or run out.

Maybe cricket in August wasn’t such a bad idea for Kingsmead, who got to debut their new and improved stadium. If it was graded, it would get an A+. On the other hand, SuperSport Park and Senwes Park both needed a face lift. The former received a much needed spray tan, while the latter looked more like an unused ground from a township.

When supporters go to the cricket stadium, they want to see and experience all the things they don’t get to experience when they are watching cricket at home. The crowds, atmosphere and perhaps the mascot - Zac. The only time you get to see Zac is before and during the toss, singing of the anthems and post-match presentation. How about bumping into him while you run down to grab a hotdog? Kids love mascots. They love hugging them, playing with them, taking pictures and creating memories, since mascots are usually soft and cuddly. Zac should come out more and mingle with the crowd. Taking a picture with Zac is something I want to do too.

As New Zealand head back home, they will have plenty of time to prepare for their tour of Australia in November which will consist only of a 3-match Test series.

In November, South Africa will tour India where they will play 4 Tests, 5 ODIs and 2 T20Is. Furthermore, they will be looking to narrow the 5 point gap between their hosts in those challenging subcontinent conditions.



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Thobeka ‘Beks’ Ngema. A cricket and football blogger who fell in love with both sports but event...

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