The Proteas will be relying on character and adaptability in uncharted territory ahead of the One-Day International series against New Zealand starting at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on Tuesday.
The Bay Oval is a relatively unknown ground, with a single ODI between the Netherlands and Canada to its name, but will offer the Proteas an opportunity to improve on their growing away-record which stands at nine wins out of 11 this year.
‘Having spoken to the guys that have played here in the past the general perception is that the wickets here tend to be a bit slower,’ Ryan McLaren said on Friday. ‘In saying that, having seen what has happened in past ODI matches, the wickets have looked good with good pace and carry.
‘This ground that will be foreign to most of the teams and it will be important to assess the conditions as quickly as possible and to try to plan from then. As a professional team, we have to be able to adapt as soon as possible, irrespective of what is placed in front of us.’
The Proteas arrived in Tauranga on Wednesday afternoon following a long flight schedule from Johannesburg via Sydney and Auckland. The itinerary has accommodated a substantial period to adapt to the time zones and conditions ahead of the opening ODI in four days.
‘It’s been great to settle in here for the last few days,’ McLaren said. ‘A few of the boys have been trying to shake off the jet-lag but generally it seems like everyone has acclimatised quite well. We have been fortunate with the weather – which has been quite pleasant – considering that we were expecting a bit of cold. The mood in the camp is good, the guys have had two training sessions which we have eased into, and we will look to increase the intensity going into the match in three days’ time.’
The all-rounder has made a full recovery from the fractured forearm he sustained during the triangular series match against Australia in Zimbabwe in August, and is raring to go on his maiden trip to New Zealand.
‘The arm is feeling good,’ he said. ‘It has recovered quite well and I started batting yesterday and today. Every day is a step in the right direction and gradual improvement so I’m pretty happy with where I am.
‘Every bit of cricket we can play in these conditions, and winning over here (New Zealand and Australia), will push the morale and the confidence in the team ahead of the World Cup,’ he added. ‘We have had a good stretch as far as ODI cricket is concerned and this is a new start and challenge, hopefully we can put in a lot of building blocks ahead of the World Cup.’