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Inexperienced South Africa galvanised for New Zealand Tests

By AFP

January 25, 2024 10:14 AM


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South Africa head coach Shukri Conrad insisted Thursday that a lack of Test experience was "galvanising" his Proteas side for the two-match series in New Zealand.

The Proteas have brought a weakened side to play the Black Caps, with many first-choice South African players committed to their domestic Twenty20 competition.

Eight of the 15-man squad have yet to play Test cricket, including captain Neil Brand.

Fast bowler Duanne Olivier has the most experience with 15 Test appearances. The 31-year-old is looking to restart a Test career stalled by injuries.

"We are all aware of why the side is what it is," Conrad told reporters in Christchurch before the two-Test series, which starts next week.

"We have made peace with it a long time ago.

"It's a conversation which has been well ventilated and discussed. If anything, it's been used as a galvanising agent."

He said his new-look South African team is desperate to defend their record of having never lost a Test series to New Zealand, dating back to the 1931/32 season.

"We have guys here who are out to prove both to themselves and show the strength of the Proteas lies not only in the top 11 (players).

"We are here as a Proteas side - not a second- or third-rate side.

"The fact New Zealand have never beaten us in a series, that looms large. It's a proud feat that we don't easily want to surrender."

He said jet lag after the long flight from Johannesburg had been "a bit of a struggle" but his side had enjoyed a "really good build-up" so far in New Zealand.

"We are looking forward to a really good battle on the field," he said.

Conrad said his squad has a lot of first-class experience, insisting they are not underdogs.

"I don't think any South African likes to be regarded as an underdog, we are certainly not adopting that tag," he added.

"I speak for every one of the guys - they are itching to get going against a top side."

Conrad said his team had already proven themselves in a recent home series win over a second-string West Indies team.

"Confidence is very high. We have quality cricketers," he said.

South Africa have a warm-up match against a New Zealand XI starting Monday in Lincoln, near Christchurch.


AFP


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