New Zealand face stiff test against buoyant South Africa

New Zealand v South Africa, two-match Test series 

February 17 – March 1, 2022

First Test, February 17-21

Hagley Oval, Christchurch (10pm February 16, UK)

This Test series is part of the ICC World Test Championship, though feels like it should be played over a best of three. 

There aren’t many five-match series these days, but two just feels like we’re being left a bit short changed. 

They look to be two pretty well matched sides. 

New Zealand, on the back of a home 1-1 draw against Bangladesh at the start of the year, are without injured captain Kane Williamson (elbow) for the whole series, retired batter Ross Taylor and opening bowler Trent Boult, the latter who is set to miss the first Test as he awaits the birth of his third child. 

South Africa, meanwhile, have just beaten India 2-1 on home soil either side of New Year. They are without injured seamer Anrich Njorte (hip), but have taken seven seamers with them on tour, headed by Kagiso Rabada. 

Incredibly, it is 14 years since New Zealand played a Test without either Williamson or Taylor. 

South Africa have never lost a Test series to New Zealand and have won their last six. They've also never played a Test at Hagley Oval, where both matches of this series will take place. It's a battle of the bowlers, coming up...

— Firdose Moonda (@FirdoseM) February 10, 2022

New Zealand’s long wait for a series win over South Africa could go on 

The Black Caps, who will be captained by opening batter Tom Latham, have never beaten South Africa in a Test series, something they have attempted to do on 16 previous occasions. 

In fact, they have lost 13 of their previous series and have only won four of 45 Tests played between the two nations. 

Instinct suggests South Africa’s dominance can continue. 

New Zealand will head into the series with plenty of batting question marks despite the presence of Devon Conway at the top of their order, a player fast developing into a superstar of this format. 

South Africa will certainly be confident on the back of their India win, and conditions should suit their seamers. There is some rain forecast for Christchurch later in the week, but hopefully it is not enough to ruin things. 

South Africa are an 9/2 to win the series with bet365, who also have them at even money on the double chance to either win or draw the series.

Marco has made his mark – is there more to come? 

South Africa left-arm seamer Marco Jansen, the tall 21-year-old, claimed 19 wickets in his first three Tests against India, just one behind Kagiso Rabada.

He is third favourite to be South Africa’s top bowler in the first innings of this week’s opening Test at 7/2 with Betfair. Rabada is the 2/1 favourite, while Lungi Ngidi is 10/3. 

I would be keen to side with the better valued Jansen as he looks to continue his superb start to life at the top level.

Marco Jansen: 21, 6ft 8in, a left-armer, good pace and already being picked as no 7 in Test cricket.

Has the making of an immense cricketer for South Africa

— Tim Wigmore (@timwig) January 3, 2022

South Africa’s batting looks more settled, opening up prospect of 6/4 shot

Without Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor, New Zealand have plenty to ponder. 

They have brought back Hamish Rutherford, who played the last of his 16 Tests in 2015, and have handed a maiden call-up to Canterbury’s Cam Fletcher.

South Africa’s line-up just looks more settled, leading you to think that they can secure the 6/4 on offer from betfair for them to claim a first-innings lead.