Depleted South Africa are not going to roll over for hosts New Zealand and are aiming for a series win when they travel for two fixtures in the World Test Championship next month, uncapped tour captain Neil Brand said on Friday.
The series will clash with Cricket South Africa’s domestic Twenty20 competition, which is seen as vital to the future financial health of the organisation, and attempts to get the tests moved were unsuccessful.
There are eight uncapped players in the tour party, including skipper Brand, which has drawn criticism from several quarters, including former Australia captain Steve Waugh.
But Brand, who has been likened to former Australia and South Africa opening batter Kepler Wessels for his gritty style, has cautioned the critics not to write off their chances.
“I know this tour has been spoken about a lot in the media,” Brand told reporters. “We are definitely going to New Zealand to try and compete and win the series. That’s our main goal.
“People have written us off but at the end of the day we are still wearing a Proteas badge and we are desperate to come back to South Africa with something.”
There may be limited test experience in the squad, but at first class level they average almost 100 matches each.
“This team has 96 (first class) games per player on an average so that’s a lot of cricket,” Brand said. “There is a lot of experience in terms of domestic cricket and that has to count for something.
“No-one has any baggage; we are just going there to give it our best shot. It is good to go to New Zealand as underdogs. We are using that as motivation.”
That being said, Brand says representing South Africa still comes with pressure and this is not the ‘free hit’ some are describing, and that they are a side with nothing to lose.
“There is a lot of pride that comes in wearing this (South Africa) shirt. Putting it on today for the first time was very cool. I think there is still pressure, you don’t want to let your country down.”
Brand knows that New Zealand is a challenging place to tour with the home side especially potent in their own conditions.
“Their side is very settled, they have a good bowling attack and a long batting line-up.”
The first test will be played in Mount Maunganui from Feb. 4.