Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

Proteas given a ‘wake-up call’ in thumping defeat to Black Caps

'A few of the players would have taken a bit of a knock in terms of the harsh realities of Test cricket.'

The vast difference in experience between the two sides is now evident, head coach Shukri Conrad admits, after the new members of the Proteas Test squad were given a ‘wake-up call’ during their thumping defeat in the first match against New Zealand.

The SA team were swept aside with bat and ball at Mount Maunganui, falling in a 281-run loss to their hosts within four days earlier this week.

Conrad felt the new-look national team, missing many first-choice players due to their commitments in the SA20 league, had failed to exert pressure as consistently as the Black Caps.

The great divide

Six players in the Proteas side – captain Neil Brand, all-rounder Ruan de Swardt, seam bowler Tshepo Moreki, wicketkeeper Clyde Fortuin, and batters Edward Moore and Raynard van Tonder – were competing in their first Test matches. Conversely, none of the players in the New Zealand line-up were uncapped.

“If I’m brutally honest, I think this match showed quite a few things,” Conrad said.

“We’ve obviously got to factor in the nervous tension and everything that goes with debuting for a lot of players, and obviously the nerves that a Test match brings, but I think the divide (between SA and NZ) is great.”

Proteas head coach Shukri Conrad
Proteas Test coach Shukri Conrad speaks to the media during a press conference. Picture: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images

Conrad admitted they were gutted by the defeat, but he said they had taken the loss on the chin.

After giving the players a day off to recover physically and mentally yesterday, he hoped they would be able to put up a stronger fight in the second Test starting in Hamilton on Tuesday.

“I think the real test will come when we step out on the field again in a few days’ time,” Conrad said.

“For now they’re in decent spirits. Obviously a few of them would have taken a bit of a knock in terms of the harsh realities that Test cricket brings and possibly how far away they probably still are.

“I think many felt they were closer to the Test side than they currently are, and when you go through a few days like they have been, there’s a bit of a jolt and a little wake-up call.”

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