BIRMINGHAM – If South Africa were playing any other team tomorrow they could have been in for an earful.
There is just so much to harp on about. A return to Edgbaston obviously brings the fateful 1999 World Cup semi-final draw with Australia to the fore. And then there’s another semi from four years ago that could come up in conversation.
New Zealand, the victors, that epic night in Auckland don’t operate like their noisy neighbours across the ditch though. It remains a special day in Black Caps history, but they won’t be reminding the Proteas of their misery.
“We are just true to who we are, as a people and a nation, and that’s the personality of New Zealanders,” said Craig McMillan, the New Zealand batting coach.
“We are friendly, we do get on well with people and we still play our cricket hard and competitive but we do it the New Zealand way and that is different to how other teams do it and that is fine.
“Obviously it was a wonderful game of cricket and it was shame that a side had to lose because both sides were worthy of winning that game and lucky enough we were on the right side of it. Occasionally you see some highlights and for those of us that were involved it is hard not to bring a smile. If we can produce something to that standard on Wednesday then the fans will be pretty happy,” he added.
The Proteas will certainly be hoping they are the team that comes out on the right side of the coin this time. If not, like four years ago, it will mean the end of their World Cup campaign.
Their ambitions have received a shot in the arm with the return to fitness of fast bowler Lungi Ngidi. The 23-year-old missed both matches in Southampton and the victory over Afghanistan in Cardiff.
However, his absence was most felt in the defeat to Bangladesh at The Oval when he was forced off after bowling just four overs of his spell.
“I felt like I let the team down a bit,” Ngidi admitted. “Obviously I didn’t mean to get injured, but I didn’t bowl my quota overs so someone had to bowl my overs.”
New Zealand’s top-order has been the mainstay of their World Cup campaign thus far, but Ngidi feels this could actually be the way in for the Proteas.
“At the moment their middle order and lower order hasn’t been tested,” he said. “Maybe if we take one or two upfront and get the middle order in we could be looking at a different situation.”
Ngidi will most likely come into the side at the expense of Beuran Hendricks. The left-armer started off well against Afghanistan on his World Cup debut last Saturday, but fell away with some loose deliveries towards the end of his opening spell.@ZaahierAdams
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