Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

Under-strength Proteas praised for ‘almost pulling off the impossible’

"Credit has to go to us for putting up a good fight," said skipper Neil Brand.

They admitted they were outplayed, but Proteas captain Neil Brand and coach Shukri Conrad were full of praise for the second-string national team after they punched above their weight in the second Test against New Zealand.

Having arrived Down Under without most of the national squad’s regular players, due to commitments in the recently concluded SA20 series, the tourists were thumped by 281 runs in the first match at Mount Maunganui last week.

Desperate to prevent a historic series defeat in the second Test in Hamilton this week, they lost by seven wickets, again within four days. Three days in, however, victory was still well within their grasp thanks largely to a maiden Test century from David Bedingham, who scored 110 runs in their second innings, and some impressive spin bowling by Dane Piedt who returned match figures of 8/182.

‘Amazing experience’

Brand, who captained the side in the first two Tests of his career, admitted their opponents were simply better, but he hoped some of the new and recalled members of the squad had done enough to gain some favour from Conrad when selecting teams for future tours.

“It’s been an amazing experience and definitely something I want to be a part of in the future,” Brand said yesterday.

“We now know it is possible to play at this level. We did compete with a very good New Zealand side and I think credit has to go to us for putting up a good fight and coming back strongly in this (second) game.”

Gutsy effort

While Conrad made it clear that Bedingham remained part of his plans, he did not suggest any other players had earned a spot in the regular squad.

He was, however, delighted with the gutsy effort the team produced in an attempt to level the series in Hamilton.

“It speaks volumes for the character of the side. On the playing field we knew it was going to be tough, and it was everything we expected and more,” Conrad said.

“But just the manner in which the guys have stuck together, wanted to put up a good showing, and almost pulled off the impossible, I can’t fault them for trying and giving their absolute best.”

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Proteas cricket team Shukri Conrad

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