Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Preview, 2nd Test, New Zealand versus South Africa, Hamilton

The first Test between these two Teams upheld the glorious uncertainty of Test cricket with what was billed as a David versus Goliath affair turning into a compelling cut and thrust affair. That went to the last day on a knifes edge with both Teams still a good chance to win only for Mother Nature to strike the killer blow.

Sadly, mid March and New Zealand is known for one thing.......rain, rain and more rain. So this match might have the same unwanted visitor to frustrate the Hell out of us fans.

I am an eternal optimist, so lets hope that the 'Land of the Long White Cloud' has some unseasonably balmy weather!

New Zealand

Likely Team

It seems that patience has run out with the precociously talented Tim Southee with his position being taken by either Brent Arnell or Mark Gillespie. Both who are plodding types that are unlikely to cause many issues for the South African batsmen. Greater sense would have been seen in the Kiwi Selectors giving Southee the song' 'Its now or never' and telling him to live it in this Test.

The batting is a huge concern especially at the top with Martin Guptill again being exposed in real cricket and Rob Nicol looking distinctly lacking in what is needed. Hopefully my views on both are harsh and it leaves me with egg on my face.

The Team should be as follows

Martin Guptill, Rob Nicol,  Brendon McCullum,  Ross Taylor (capt),  Kane Williamson, Daniel Vettori,  Kruger van Wyk (wk),  Doug Bracewell,  Trent Boult, Mark Gillespie/Brent Arnel,  Chris Martin. 

The Keys for New Zealand to Win

The Team was very big hearted in Dunedin, but was again let down by the fragility that is inherent in its batting.

Starting from the top, the opening pair of Martin Guptill and Rob Nicol looked like dead men walking against the South African attack. A lift from them is desperately needed for the team to be competitive in this Test, but on a willing pitch and against a great attack that is unlikely.

Putting them both in the bonus category in terms of being contributors it leaves a huge burden on Brendon McCullum and Roass Taylor to carry the batting in the top order with Kane Williamson and Dan Vettori in support.

In the first Test, Taylor looked real quality and it seems the leadership has bestowed the maturity that this fabulously talented young batsman has always lacked.

He needs support with McCullum and Vettori showing a willingness to stand up. Crucially, young Kane Williamson needs to be a factor as well as the the lower middle order encompassing the keeper Van Wyk and bowling all rounder Doug Bracewell. 

If they can put in a Team performance with the bat it will be a huge factor in a Test that is likely to be played in bowling conditions.

The bowling side of things is lead by the young up and coming spearhead in Doug Bracewell, who has looked fabulous in his early career. He is likely to test all the Protea batsmen and in support of him is the big hearted and under rated Chris Martin, whose skill with ball in hand is rarely given the respect it deserves.

Southee would have have completed a capable trio of bowlers, but with him being dropped it will be either the bustling fast man Gillespie or the laser like accuracy of medium pacer Brent Arnel to get things done. 

The spin side of things is headed by Vettori, and you can depend in him to be a factor in any game he bowls. The only question being whether he is a miserly holding type of factor or a wicket taking one.

Lets hope it is the latter which would have a huge bearing in New Zealand's prospects

South Africa

Likely Team

There was doubt over the fitness of A.B.DeVilliers in the lead up to this game, but it seems he has been passed fit leaving the Team as follows

Graeme Smith (capt),  Alviro Petersen,  Hashim Amla,  Jacques Kallis,  AB de Villiers  Jacques Rudolph,  Mark Boucher (wk),  Vernon Philander,  Dale Steyn,  Morne Morkel,  Imran Tahir. 

The Keys for South Africa to Win

Most pundits expected the South Africans to maul the Kiwis throughout the series, and were a bit taken aback by the resistance shown by the hosts in the first Test. A resistance that left them with a chance of winning the game.

I think this Test will see a rise in the performance from the Team and with it them over matching the feisty Kiwis.

You just have to look at the relative failures of Dale Steyn in the first Test where he only had figures of 104/2 in conditions suited for bowlers. Just on the back of his devastating career you know the man known as the 'Steyn Remover' will lift and be a huge factor.

Completing a trio of quicks with Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander that is spectacularly good. If the leggie Imran Tahir can find his feet in Test Cricket it would be without doubt be the best attack in the World.

Away from my lauding of the bowling unit the same cannot be said for the batting. Which has at times shown how peerless it can be, but also had times that it has let itself down. As in the 1st innings in Dunedin when they collapsed from 86/2 to being 238 all out.

Them performing to their ability ultimately holds the key for the Team. For when they do perform they are arguably the best batting line up in World Cricket with stars a plenty.

The trio of Kallis, DeVillier and Amla are batsmen of the highest calibre, and then Graeme Smith is a Test batsmen of real quality too.

Throw in Jacques Rudolph, who has embraced a move to the lower middle order and there is no reason for them not to excel.

Ultimately, if the batting performs with the bowling likely to be a huge factor it should guarantee a South African win

Prediction

South Africa will win


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