Proteas coach Shukri Conrad to look at conditions, hints at changes for second Test

One of the options available to coach Shukri Conrad is off-spinner Dane Piedt, who can add some variety to the Proteas bowling attack

One of the options available to coach Shukri Conrad is off-spinner Dane Piedt, who can add some variety to the Proteas bowling attack. Photo: Gianluigi Guercia/AFP

Published Feb 10, 2024


There are just some stadiums around the world where the fans are hostile and the stadium itself is intimidating to opposition teams.

In cricket, wherever you go in England, the “Barmy Army” is always going to be looking to get into the minds of the opposition players, while in Australia, it is not only the crowd, but also the players that will try and chirp their way into the opposition’s psyche.

New Zealand, on the other hand, is by the far the most friendly and relaxed cricket country in relation to the others.

Their cricketers hardly ever get to a point where tempers flare on the field of play, and they are a team that generally embodies the “spirit of the game”.

However, when it comes to the cricket itself, they are just as competitive as any of the top teams. And this week, Shukri Conrad’s Proteas squad got a taste of just how tough it can be to play the Black Caps, despite their gentleness off the field, as they went down by 281 runs in the first Test at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui.

“It’s tough for everyone here. It’s like Burnley going to Anfield every week,” Conrad told the media.

“This is five days of cricket where it is relentless pressure, and you have to be on top of your game all the time against a quality side like New Zealand.”

Having won the first-ever edition of the World Test Championship two years ago, and for the mere fact that they are playing an inexperienced Proteas Test side, New Zealand would have had every right to boss their way to victory at the Bay Oval by forcing South Africa to follow on, to try to inflict an even bigger defeat.

But the Black Caps did the most Black Caps thing by batting for the second time in the match, despite having a 349-run first-innings lead, and gave the inexperienced South Africans the same respect they would have given a team with regulars such as Temba Bavuma and Kagiso Rabada.

“New Zealand showed us the greatest respect by going to bat the second time, because that’s what they would have done if they were playing Australia or England or a full-strength South African side,” Conrad said.

“From that front, they certainly haven’t patronised us, if that’s the right word. They paid us all the respect in the world, and they are certainly treating it as Test cricket where they can get points – but they still need to be doing all their processes properly as well.”

With the second Test set to get under way on Tuesday, Conrad and his staff will have to think long and hard about what changes to make in order to better challenge New Zealand at Seddon Park in Hamilton.

Conrad has all-rounder Mihlali Mpongwana, spinners Shaun von Berg and Dane Piedt and batter Khaya Zondo sitting on the sidelines and ready to fire should they be included in the playing XI next week.

“We are going to have to look at not only the conditions, but potentially where else we can challenge the New Zealand batters. I don’t want to lose any of our batting. I think that’s the only way we are going to get something out of the Test match,” the SA Test coach said.

“We have to bat really well. We’ve got to have as many batters as we can, try take the game as deep as we can and maybe force New Zealand to making a rushed decision.

“We are going to have to look from the bowling attack possibly how else we can challenge them. I have to put my thinking cap on together with the other coaches, and try and look at other ways where we possibly can challenge them.

"I’m expecting maybe one or two changes to see how else we can get something out of the next Test.”


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