x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Gary Kirsten wary of 'unpredictable' wickets in New Zealand

The South African coach respectful of the Black Caps ahead of Test series where a whitewash would put them top of the rankings.

Gary Kirsten expects a challenging tour of New Zealand for South Africa.
Gary Kirsten expects a challenging tour of New Zealand for South Africa.

Gary Kirsten has pledged South Africa will be taking nothing for granted ahead of their tour of New Zealand which could see them become the No 1 Test side.

A 3-0 win in the three-match Test series would see the Proteas take the top spot from England, who were beaten 3-0 by Pakistan in the UAE in their most recent series.

The Proteas have never managed a clean sweep in a three-Test series against the Black Caps and Kirsten, the coach, conceded his charges may have trouble adapting to unpredictable wickets ahead of the opening Twenty20 game on Friday.

"For any team it takes a bit of time to adjust to the weather and wickets," he said. "The wickets can be quite different every time you come here."

The tour, including three T20 internationals, three one-day internationals and three Tests, will provide a gauge for New Zealand coach John Wright of how far his team has come following his appointment in December 2010.

Wright guided the Black Caps to the semi-finals of last year's World Cup in a campaign which included a shock quarter-final win over South Africa that was marred by an ugly spat after Proteas batsman AB de Villiers, now the one-day and T20 skipper, was run out.

New Zealand also scored a rare Test victory on Australian soil to draw a series with the Baggy Greens in December and Wright has unearthed a rich seam of young talent, including batsman Kane Williams and seamer Doug Bracewell.

And they are confident after a string of comprehensive wins over Zimbabwe over the past month in a Test match, three one-dayers and two T20 matches.

Kirsten, whose team is coming off a Test series win over Sri Lanka last month, said the World Cup bust-up with New Zealand was in the past and his players would not be drawn into a slanging match with the home side.

"I don't think we're going to be worrying too much about what New Zealand are doing," he said.

"We feel if we play really good cricket and don't say anything we're going to win more games than we'll lose. If New Zealand feel they want to get verbal with us, that's their business."

The first Test in Dunedin begins on March 7.