Without the option, the deal is worth $127.12 millio

in Allgemein 25.04.2018 13:43
von MJL456 • 2.720 Beiträge

So this is what it feels like to be the Springboks and the All Blacks. Sort of.New Zealands cricketers are not quite the out and out favourites their rugby counterparts are. No matter who they are playing, they hold the advantage going into this series.They have never been ranked higher than South Africa, but as of Wednesday afternoon, sit two places above them. Eyeing a first series win over South Africa is not merely fanciful. By the end of this month, it could become reality. Who would have thought?When these fixtures were announced on November 3, 2015, they did not promise anything particularly eye-catching. South Arica were still ranked No.1. Hashim Amla was still Test captain. There was still hope that the busiest summer South Africa have had in years would also be their most successful. New Zealand were, well, only New Zealand. Languishing in the mid-table. Beaten inside four days and by an innings in both Tests the last time they visited South Africa. Being crushed by Australia at the time these matches were announced.The alarm bells that should have sounded in South African minds were mute. They did not ring with news that New Zealand had gone for two-and-a-half years before that unbeaten, that they had home wins over India and Sri Lanka, an away win in the West Indies and a draw with Pakistan in the UAE. They also did not bring out the truth that Test cricket has never been played in South Africa in August, and that a team notorious for starting slow may not want to experiment with fixtures at a time when conditions could make home advantage a moot point. It was only New Zealand. Only.They are a happy team, Russell Domingo said of them, with a heaviness to the words that almost added, once, we were happy too. In essence, that, more than recent results is the difference between New Zealand and South Africa now. Having spent the last three weeks watching them in Zimbabwe, I was struck by how much they reminded me of Graeme Smiths South African team at their peak.This New Zealand squad all speak the same language, literally. Close your eyes at a press conference and you will think they have sent the same person every day. That person talks about patience, which sounds quite similar to the Smith teams focus on processes. That person talks about concentrating on their own game and not getting caught up in what the opposition is doing or saying which is exactly how Smiths men rose to the top. That person talks about continually improving, not merely climbing a ladder that will eventually reach a ceiling; Smiths team were at the top of the ladder and New Zealand may be interested to learn that the only direction from there is down. But before New Zealand worry about that, they have to summit and they seem to have what it takes.Kane Williamson does not have the brashness of Smith, but in his own way, he is bold, especially in deed. He bats with the same purpose Smith did, and when he talks, you get the sense people listen. Like Smith, he seems much older than he really is, and, as a result, his focus is intense. Like Smith, he does not operate alone.Together with Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill, he forms the experience in the New Zealand line-up, while allowing Tom Latham and BJ Watling to come through to play the promising youngster roles. Smith had that in the form of Jacques Kallis, and Amla, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis were the energisers. New Zealand have the varied pace attack South Africa had with swing and seam. Tim Southee and Trent Boult find movement, Neil Wagner provides bounce, and Doug Bracewell and Matt Henry are waiting to play. South Africa had Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel, and back-up included Kyle Abbott and Rory Kleinveldt. Three of those five are playing in this series - Morkel is out with injury and Kleinveldt has settled on the county scene - but there are concerns that they have passed their glory days.That applies to South Africa as a whole. Six of South Africas crop are over 30, and all of them are essential to the XI. Du Plessis, Amla, Steyn, Philander, Duminy and opening batsmen Stephen Cook are the senior players and all are expected to be part of the starting XI. Only four New Zealanders are into their 30s, and one - Luke Ronchi, who is 35, sat out the Zimbabwe Tests. When New Zealand call themselves a young side, they are right, especially as their youngsters still have many years in the game.Among them are Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner, who offer two of the three spin bowling disciplines in a squad that covers all bases. Mark Craig, the offspinner, is the third option. Even at their best, a champion spinner is something South Africa never had, with Imran Tahir and Robin Peterson always operating in the shadows of the pace attack. Recently, Dane Piedt has emerged, and he could become part of South Africas new wave, which still needs to gather much momentum before it can consider itself worthy. And playing New Zealand may not help.Personnel aside, what makes New Zealand happy is what used to make South Africa happy: that they could play with freedom. New Zealand are not beholden to government policy or higher authorities, and although South Africa have always been answerable to some extent, never before has the spotlight on the politics of sport shone harsher.This is the first series which will be played since CSA confirmed the introduction of a selection target into the national side which will dictate the number of players of colour to be picked in each XI. The specifics of the policy have not been discussed, not even with Domingo who said he had received no instructions five days before the series, but they will come.Beyond the rights, wrongs and reasons for this intervention - and there are many - there are the effects, and the biggest one is that it creates an us and them. Even players like Amla, whose spot in the team has remained certain for years, will now be part of the numbers that make up the target. The obvious consequence is insecurity.A player like JP Duminy, whose poor run saw him dropped from the Newlands Test against England earlier this year, may end up wondering whether his recall was because of the double hundred he scored for his franchise Cape Cobras, or because of his colour. And the opposite will hold true too. If Wayne Parnell is picked ahead of Chris Morris, Morris may wonder if he was left out because of team balance or target balance.And the worst part is that this is not as conclusive as wondering if a player is good enough. Everyone in the squad is good enough. It is more about whether the horses-for-courses approach most selection policies, including New Zealands, are based on will have to be abandoned in favour of an approach which considers the selection target before anything else.The South African sporting system itself is at a crossroads with teams from various codes under pressure to increase their pace of transformation. The Springboks are in almost exactly the same place as their cricket counterparts ahead of this weekend when the Rugby Championship starts, but it will be another four weeks before they play the All Blacks. For now, the tension is on the cricket pitch. Vapormax Plus 2018 . 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