Neil Brand to lead understrength Proteas to New Zealand

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Joined: Nov 2016

Neil Brand will captain a Proteas Test side devoid of household names for the two-match Test series in New Zealand at the start of February.

Brand, 27, who has led the Northerns Titans in the four-day domestic series the last few seasons including to the title itself last summer, will fill in for Temba Bavuma, who like all the nationally contracted players, are participating in the SA20 tournament that starts on January 10.

That tournament coincides with the tour, in which points are up for grabs in the World Test Championship. 

There are seven uncapped players in the 14-man squad, with Proteas Test coach Shukri Conrad forced to cast his selection net wider, once CSA made it clear that players had to prioritise the SA20, which starts its second season, a few days after the New Year’s Test against India. 

“The players picked for this tour have every chance of challenging New Zealand and we have full confidence they will do exactly that when we arrive for the first Test match at Mount Maunganui,” Conrad said.

“Most of these guys participated in the recent ‘A’ series against West Indies where they showed they have what it takes against players of international calibre. That experience will no doubt leave them in a better position for what we expect to be a testing series in New Zealand.”

The SA A side won that series 2-1, with Brand, who captained the team, making a hundred and picking up two wickets.

Brand, Ruan de Swardt, Clyde Fortuin, Tshepo Moreki, Mihlali Mpongwana, Raynard van Tonder and Shaun von Berg are the uncapped players in the tour party.

David Bedingham, who made his debut against India in Centurion, Keegan Petersen and Zubayr Hamza, called up to the Proteas squad for the second Test with India after Bavuma’s withdrawal because of a hamstring injury, are the only players from the India series who will head Down Under. 

Hamza and Duanne Olivier are the only survivors from the Proteas’ previous tour to New Zealand in February 2022, when they recovered from 0-1 down to draw that series 1-1. 

South Africa has never lost a Test series against the Black Caps. 

“I’m going to back myself to come back with something from New Zealand and we are going to try to keep that record intact when we get there,” Conrad said about the prospect of taking an understrength team to New Zealand. 

“It is not typically South African to bemoan every fact, typically South African is to make a plan and find a way. We will face that frontier when we get to the land of the long white cloud.”    

The first Test will take place in Mt Manganui on February while the second Test starts in Hamilton on February 13.

SA Squad: Neil Brand (capt), David Bedingham, Ruan de Swardt, Clyde Fortuin, Zubayr Hamza, Tshepo, Moreki, Mihlali Mpongwana, Duanne Olivier, Dane Paterson, Keegan Petersen, Dane Piedt, Raynard van Tonder, Shaun von Berg, Khaya Zondo


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