The canny Kiwis wait with bated breath

South Africa have annihilated the West Indies once again. Just as they were five years ago, the Caribbean tourists have been blown away. No wonder people have enjoyed betting on cricket over the years – there’s no such thing as a “dead certainty”, of course, but just try and find an ‘expert’ willing to predict a West Indian triumph in the current one-day series.

Jacques Kallis led the way in a performance of the highest, most intimidating style the one day game has witnessed at Newlands on Sunday.

Having cleaned Brian Lara’s men up 3-0 in the Test series, it is a safe assumption that a similarly one-sided score will result after the humiliation of 54 all out.

So beware the hapless Kiwis when South Africa arrive in three weeks time. Another slaughter, surely. Probably not. A little bird (also flightless, but not a Kiwi) has alerted this column to the frenetic activities of the New Zealanders ahead of South Africa’s arrival on February 10.

Far from being intimidated by the form of Graeme Smith’s side, the ‘Black Caps’ are plotting an upset so cunning it might qualify for a sub-ploy in a John le Carre spy novel.

The most creative, witty and sly captain in world cricket, Stephen Fleming, is hard at work as we speak, studying videos of the destruction of Lara’s eager but hapless troops and plotting his own attack. Fresh from a one-day series defeat of Pakistan on home soil, Fleming is confident of another upset against South Africa.

How? Slow, low and awkward pitches are speciality of the land of the long white cloud (although it has mostly been a fat, grey cloud in my experience), but those pitches are now set for an expansion of their ‘nothingness’ if plans are executed successfully.

Theories can be disproven, naturally, but the Kiwis believe that four of SA’s top six (in Tests) are natural strokeplayers who will lose patience with the lack of pace and, sooner or later, lash out at mediocre – but disciplined – bowling in an effort to force the pace.

Smith, Gibbs, Rudolph and McKenzie are believed to be vulnerable in this regard while Kirsten and Kallis will be starved of runs in an attempt to “out-stare” the opposition.

It might sound like a recipe for disastrously boring cricket, but the tactics of the New Zealanders can easily be understood. Who remembers how the Kiwis beat the almighty, ‘unbeatable’ West Indies in the 1970’s?

Who remembers how they beat anyone, in fact (and I don’t mean that unkindly, seriously).

As a result of a few famous triumphs however, more often than not based on clever planning and preparation, they have burst many a bubble.

Fleming is as clever as they have ever come. While South Africans enjoy the rest of this series, they should brace themselves for a hard time at the other end of the world in a couple of weeks time.


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