South Africa wrapped up a 2-0 series win over New Zealand early on Monday, winning both their Tests by an innings. Sure, the opposition might not have been particularly stiff competition, but that doesn’t mean the Proteas weren’t incredibly impressive. By ANT SIMS.
It didn’t take too long for South Africa to wrap up another victory and give a limp New Zealand a massive bashing. The Proteas won the series 2-0, beating the Black Caps by an innings and 193 runs.
While the Black Caps might have had a slight tinge of hope heading into the fourth day, with Dean Brownlie and BJ Watling looking like they might provide some resurgence, it wasn’t to be. Silly shot selection, surgical precision from Dale Steyn and some good bounce from Morne Morkel saw the Kiwis collapse to 211 all out, with the Proteas sealing victory by a broad margin.
Steyn is arguably the best Test bowler in the world, but it’s been a while since he’s been so consistently accurate and aggressive over a long period of time. And while the New Zealand batsmen had their moments, Steyn was just too much for them to contend with. Picking up his 19th five-wicket haul in Test cricket – well, it was just another day at the office for the unstoppable Steyn.
Steyn’s performance stood out even more markedly since he was without his usual new ball partner in crime, Vernon Philander, for the Test. While Morne Morkel filled the role more than adequately, the fact that the pair managed to adjust without any real issues spoke volumes for their skill and flexibility. Adaptability is one of the many cogs in the incredible South African machine – not least their ability to adapt to conditions at unfamiliar venues, or to a changing line-up.
From the start, South Africa was expected to crush New Zealand – and that’s just what the winners did, ruthlessly. The Proteas never let their feet off the gas. Despite one session in Cape Town where, maybe for an hour, they let some of the basics slide a little, the Proteas were a behemoth throughout the series. And the trend looks set to continue: as a unit, South Africa has grown from strength to strength in the last 12 months. The players who are set in the side have performed over and over again, while the debutants have been nothing short of sensational.
For rookies and new faces to slot so easily into an established squad is a mark of solid camaraderie, which now seems to embellish the South African Test set up. While it’s taken Dean Elgar three Tests and a rather poor bowling outfit to finally find his form, his hundred in the second Test showed glimpses of the class which got him elevated to the Test side in the first place.
He’s got a long way to go, but his knock in Port Elizabeth will most certainly dust off some of the cobwebs.
Similarly, Rory Kleinveldt has finally showed why he has been one of the highest rated bowlers on South Africa’s domestic circuit for such a long time. Another man who had a forgettable debut, Kleinveldt dished up some superb deliveries in the second Test, especially in the first innings.
The ball to dismiss Brownlie in New Zealand’s first innings was unplayable, straightening off the pitch, and despite the batsman trying to duck out the way, the ball brushed his glove and went through to AB de Villiers for a simple catch.
To dismiss Daniel Flynn, The Big Show got some swing, and despite a desperate review, the batsman was sent on his way. Kleinveldt probably still has a long way to go before he’s threatening anybody’s place in the starting XI, but knowing that he’s waiting in the wings, especially with Marchant de Lange still out with injury for an undefined period of time, is a good sign for the Proteas.
Robin Peterson is also slowly carving a niche for himself in the Test set-up, and while it’s taken a while for him to get there, he’s taken his opportunity by the scruff of the neck. While he might not be the most bamboozling of the spin bowlers, Peterson’s strength lies in knowing how to fox batsmen with rather ordinary deliveries. And while he hasn’t showed much prowess with the bat in this series, he does have six first-class hundreds under his bat and the 33-year old is always working to improve his game in all aspects.
You’d be hard-pressed to find fault with the Proteas’ performance over the two Tests. It was an emphatic series victory, just as everyone expected, and it now extends the Proteas’ unbeaten run to 12 Tests. With a three-match series coming up against Pakistan, the Proteas will be in a confident mood – and as long as confidence doesn’t evolve into arrogance, they’ll be just fine.
South Africa 1st innings: 525-8 decl
Amla 110 (235), Faf du Plessis 137 (252), Dean Elgar 103* (170)
Doug Bracewell 34-6-94-3, Colin Munro 18-4-40-2
New Zealand 1st innings: 121 all out
BJ Watling 63 (87), Trent Boult 17 (23)
Dale Steyn 13-5-17-5, Robin Peterson 7-2-20-2
New Zealdand 2nd innings (following on) 211 all out
Dean Brownlie 53 (141), BJ Watling 63 (117)
Dale Steyn 15.4-2-48-3, Morne Morkel 16-6-36-2 DM
Photo: South Africa’s Dale Steyn (C) celebrates the wicket of New Zealand’s Neil Wagner (R) during day three of the second cricket test match in Port Elizabeth, January 13, 2013. REUTERS/Rogan Ward
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