The conditions favoured the Proteas more in the first Test at Kingsmead, and they would have gone on to win it.
Although the Proteas gave away quite a lot of their wickets, their score of 263 wasn’t actually that bad. It used to be a hell of an effort to get over 200 batting first in Durban, and the likes of Hashim Amla and Temba Bavuma looked in great touch.
New Zealand can consider themselves lucky to go into the second Test all square. They looked out of their depth against Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander. The Kingsmead pitch is perfect for Philander. He bowls that 3/4 length and gets it to move both ways. Steyn bowled very well considering he hasn’t played that much cricket recently, but time and time again he makes the difference.
The Black Caps don’t have guys like Steyn and Philander who can bowl in those conditions. Trent Boult and Tim Southee are good bowlers, but the Proteas batsmen generally got themselves out. I can only imagine how someone like Morne Morkel would have bowled if he’d been fit. He would have been unplayable.
Quinton de Kock is an example of one of those players who got themselves out. It was ridiculous. You can argue that a player like Adam Gilchrist would have done the exact same thing back in the day, but De Kock had just scored back-to-back boundaries, and he got greedy. He needs to learn not to give his wicket away, and that will come with time.
He was still in T20 mode, and the amount of T20 cricket these guys have played certainly affects the mindset. I remember Hansie Cronje getting himself out in a similar fashion, and he was disgusted with himself. He said that when you’re in that limited-overs frame of mind, your instincts kick in and you have so little time to decide against your mindset.
The batting was okay. I was impressed with Bavuma. He has a good technique and looks solid. Without AB de Villiers, though, it’s a suspect lineup. Amla is the only one you can trust to hang around and score the big runs. They keep talking about how they have batsmen capable of scoring runs. This needs to happen regularly though. You need six specialist batsmen. Your No 3 and No 4 needs to be averaging above 50. JP Duminy, who came in at No 4, averages 32.
It was ludicrous, meanwhile, to have Test cricket being played in Durban in August. It’s gloomy at the best of times and it’s always going to be susceptible to rain. The crowds are terrible and have been for a long time now. When we played the Australians 10 years ago there must have been about 10 000 people in total across the five days.
I’m expecting the track at Centurion to be quite flat and good for scoring runs. This is a really good opportunity for the middle order to step and score some big runs.
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/Backpage Pix