Bafana Bafana, and not West Indies, inspire Proteas to win in New Zealand

Shukri Conrad said he is ‘really comfortable with where the guys are at’ following the Proteas’ warm-up match in New Zealand. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu / BackpagePix

Shukri Conrad said he is ‘really comfortable with where the guys are at’ following the Proteas’ warm-up match in New Zealand. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu / BackpagePix

Published Feb 1, 2024


Bafana Bafana stunned Morocco at the Africa Cup of Nations, and the ripple effect of Tuesday’s victory has not only travelled from west Africa to the southern parts of the continent, but 16 000km south-east to New Zealand.

Proteas Test coach Shukri Conrad and his team are on a mission to protect a record that South Africa proudly hold over the Black Caps.

The goals from Evidence Makgopa and Teboho Mokoena have not only inspired South Africans here at home, but have fuelled the underdogs that are set to play a two-match series against the former world Test champions in their own backyard.

It is not only Bafana, but also the Proteas Women’s first victory over Australia this week that have added a bit of motivation to Conrad’s team.

And having recently watched underdogs West Indies win a Test in Australia for the first time since 1997, and with the bulk of the players that were involved in that victory in Adelaide having already been beaten by Conrad’s team last year, the Proteas are confident of their chances against the Black Caps.

“We are thrilled for the West Indies, but I spent a lot more time getting inspiration out of the Proteas Women beating Australia for the first time and watching Bafana Bafana get through the last 16,” said Conrad after the conclusion of the only warm-up match in Lincoln yesterday.

“I find a lot of joy and inspiration out of that than the West Indies. But I think it’s great, not only for West Indies cricket, but for world cricket.

“I think it gives us a lot of confidence knowing that the bulk of those guys that beat Australia were on that A tour when we played them a couple of months ago.

“It’s the first time we (Proteas Women) beat Australia in Australia, and that’s a massive thing for any side, men or women or under-19s. All of those things keep me awake and get me up early in the morning.

“We watch our national teams and we take a lot of pride in that.”

The last time South Africa sent a Test squad to New Zealand two years ago, the side were under-prepared and handed an innings defeat in the first match, despite bouncing back in the second game to level the series 1-1.

This time around, the Proteas arrived early in New Zealand, acclimatised and had a full on warm-up match, making them fully ready for a highly anticipated showdown.

Conrad feels they have covered every base in the preparation for the series.

“We’ve really prepared well. Sometimes you sit as the coach and you feel maybe we still need to do this or that, but I’m really comfortable with where the guys are at,” he said yesterday.

“As a coaching group, we were just chatting earlier, we have prepared particularly well for this tour. (The preparations) started with an A series against West Indies A already.

“Where I sit as the head coach, I think it’s now about getting to Mount Maunganui and adding the little finishing touches.”

The tour game against a New Zealand XI ended in a draw yesterday, with SA reaching 91-2 in their second innings, with Clyde Fortuin on 30 not out and Raynard van Tonder unbeaten on 23.

The first innings saw half-centuries from Van Tonder and Ruan de Swardt, with some batters retiring early, while Dane Paterson was the best bowler in the only opposition knock, with 4-34.

The first Test will get under way at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on Sunday.

Proteas Test Squad

Neil Brand (captain, Titans), David Bedingham (Western Province), Ruan de Swardt (North West), Clyde Fortuin (Boland), Zubayr Hamza (Lions), Tshepo Moreki (Lions), Mihlali Mpongwana (WP), Edward Moore (WP), Duanne Olivier (Lions), Dane Paterson (WP), Keegan Petersen (Boland), Dane Piedt (Knights), Raynard van Tonder (North West), Shaun von Berg (Boland), Khaya Zondo (Dolphins).