South Africa fringe players see advantage in obscurity

South Africa fringe players see advantage in obscurity


The 15-man squad features 8 uncapped players, including captain Neil Brand

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(Reuters) - South Africa's second-string test squad are ready to do their nation proud in New Zealand and the low profile of their players might actually work in their favour, according to fast bowler Dane Paterson.

With most of the team's regulars staying at home to play in SA20, the country's T20 competition, the 15-man squad features eight uncapped players, including captain Neil Brand, who is set to debut in the first test at Mount Maunganui on Sunday.

Against full-strength opponents, South Africa's hopes of continuing their unbeaten record in test series against New Zealand appear dim.

However, Paterson, who played the last of his two tests four years ago, says the squad are ready to surprise.

"I think so. New Zealand will probably be doing a lot of data searching and stuff like that, because obviously they don't know the players," he told reporters on Friday.

"So, yeah .... it's a bit of an unknown to them. But I mean, it's also an unknown to us because obviously we never played against New Zealand."

With Kagiso Rabada spearheading the attack on South Africa's last New Zealand tour in 2022, the Proteas rallied from a thumping defeat in Christchurch to square the series 1-1 with a rousing victory in the second test in the same city.

This time, 15-test Duanne Olivier is the most experienced of a raw pace unit tasked with dismissing Kane Williamson and a strong New Zealand batting lineup on their home pitches.

Paterson said his squad rejected the idea that they were underdogs.

"We pride ourselves (on) pressure situations. I think it shows in our sport, also. I think that's where we're at our best," he said.

"I think this series will be like that. So, as I said, it will be exciting to take that challenge on."

The mismatch on paper between the two sides has been lamented by global cricket media, who have criticised Cricket South Africa (CSA) for prioritising the domestic T20 tournament.

CSA says the SA20 is vital to its financial stability and an attempt to move the test series was unsuccessful.

For all that, the series-opener comes straight after a raw West Indies team upset Australia in an incredible test at the Gabba to split the series 1-1 with the world champions.

"We've been speaking about the West Indies. We played against most of them. It's good to see that they are doing well," said Paterson.

"Obviously we'll take a leaf from their book."