Test matches (2): South Africa 2, New Zealand 0
One-day internationals (3): South Africa 2, New Zealand 1
Twenty20 international (1): South Africa 1, New Zealand 0
New Zealand arrived in South Africa not having played a Test match for 11 months and, although they were granted the rare privilege of two four-day warm-ups, most players were still desperately underdone by the time they stepped on to the field for the First Test. And they duly suffered the heaviest thrashing in New Zealand's history, in terms of runs.
Daniel Vettori's ten-year rise to the Test captaincy could hardly have started in a less auspicious way, yet he maintained his composure, as a cricketer and a leader, while all about him team-mates seemed to be losing theirs. His personal form and unstinting adherence to the disciplines and responsibilities of the job made him both an inspiration to his team and an ambassador to make his country proud. No doubt he would much rather have behaved like an idiot and gone without wickets and runs in order to return with acouple of series wins, but that was not an option.
The Second Test resulted in another crushing victory for South Africa, one which completed the rise of fast bowler Dale Steyn, whose back-toback ten-fors took him straight from the "quick but raw" pigeonhole into the one labelled "dangerous and proven match-winner". A month earlier he had been included in the Test side against Pakistan at Karachi only because Morne Morkel was injured, but he responded with five wickets in the second innings to help win that game too.
After the First Test here, Steyn was ranked eighth in the world. After the Second, when he became only the tenth man to claim 20 or more wickets in a series at an average of less than ten, he had risen to third.
Shane Bond's absence, after suffering his umpteenth injury during the First Test, robbed New Zealand of the only spite in their bowling, but it was the batsmen who really cost them any chance of competing, with their inability to cope with the pace and bounce of South African pitches. Chris Martin and Mark Gillespie showed enough ability to have been a threat if they had had decent scores behind them.
The tourists had to wait until the penultimate match for their solitary international victory. The nomination of Kyle Mills, after a lengthy injury lay-off, as the player of the one-day series was probably their only other significant highlight, although Jamie How and Brendon McCullum also had their moments during the one-dayers. New Zealand were hamstrung by injuries: James Franklin and Peter Fulton were ruled out before travelling, Bond broke down again, and opener Craig Cumming suffered a nasty facial injury early in the Second Test.
The main problem for New Zealand, though, was that - Australia apart - nobody wanted to play them: financially they just don't work for the likes of South Africa, which means that when they have to host the Kiwis the authorities want the tours as short as possible. New Zealand are a friendly and often attractive team but, because of the time difference, it is impossible for other host nations to generate worthwhile TV revenue. As it's not practicable to move North and South Island to a more convenient time zone, it would appear that New Zealand will have to endure longer periods of inactivity than other teams - and will, therefore, always have to endure tours such as this when they are simply unprepared to cope, let alone compete. Or win.
Match reports for
Australia v New Zealand at Benoni, Sep 8, 2007
New Zealand v West Indies at Benoni, Sep 9, 2007
2nd Match, Group C: Kenya v New Zealand at Durban, Sep 12, 2007
11th Match, Group C: New Zealand v Sri Lanka at Johannesburg, Sep 15, 2007
13th Match, Group E: India v New Zealand at Johannesburg, Sep 16, 2007
17th Match, Group E: England v New Zealand at Durban, Sep 18, 2007
20th Match, Group E: South Africa v New Zealand at Durban, Sep 19, 2007
Tour Match: South African Invitational XI v New Zealanders at Bloemfontein, Oct 25-27, 2007
Tour Match: South Africa A v New Zealanders at Potchefstroom, Nov 1-4, 2007