Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

Proteas ‘written off’ but ready to fight, says Brand

"People have written us off but at the end of the day we're still wearing a Proteas badge."

Though he will carry an immense amount of pressure as he prepares to lead the national team on his international debut, top-order batter Neil Brand is confident an under-strength Proteas squad can emerge triumphant from their two-Test series against New Zealand.

A total of eight uncapped players have been included in the 15-man squad for the tour, with most first-choice stars being unavailable due to SA20 commitments.

There has subsequently been widespread criticism around the selection of the squad, with Cricket SA seemingly giving T20 cricket preference over the national Test side, but Brand is confident of their chances of causing an upset against their hosts.

“It’s just about taking it day by day. I know this tour has been quite highly spoken about in the media and it’s about making sure all 15 of us are on the same page,” Brand said ahead of the squad’s departure on Friday.

“We’re definitely going to New Zealand to try and win the series. That’s our main goal.

“I know people have written us off but at the end of the day we’re still wearing a Proteas badge and we’re desperate to come back to South Africa with a series win.”

First-class experience

While more than half the squad had not yet played a Test, 27-year-old Titans player Brand felt there was enough experience in the group to ensure they put up a fight.

“Obviously the SA20 clashes with this tour and a lot of the main players are not available, but someone told me this team has an average of 96 games each. That’s a lot of first-class cricket as a group,” he said.

“So there’s a lot of experience in terms of domestic cricket and I think that does have to count for something.

“We haven’t played a lot of Test cricket but you have to look at the positives. We don’t have much baggage, for one, and we’re going to go out and give it our best shot.

“I think it’s good going to New Zealand as the underdogs, and people have written us off, but we will just be using that as motivation.”

The Proteas will face New Zealand in the first of two Tests at Mount Maunganui starting on 4 February.

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