John Bracewell believes the BLACKCAPS management learned a lot from their tour of South Africa.
The squad fell to a 2-0 series defeat from the three-Test series, contending with injuries and autumnal conditions in the Republic as well as the Proteas‘ form, especially man of the series Makhaya Ntini.
BLAKCAPS coach Bracewell said: “It was another tough tour of Africa. They’re a tough team to beat and highly ranked individually. Some of them are returning to form, like Ntini, who’s had 12 months where he’s been a very good player.
“And I think playing that late in the season proved of benefit to result cricket. The games that were results were quite short.
“I think the results in both of those Tests could have gone either way. I think that was reliant on a little bit of luck, with some of that luck starting at the toss, and taking best advantage of those sort of conditions.
“Having said that, they’re a pretty competitive side on their own patch and they’re hardened, after the Australians, as we were when the Australians played us and gave us a bit of a towelling on our own track.
“So there’s no excuses, we were beaten by a better side on the day, under those conditions.
“It was the same for both, but I think it the time of the year. It was pushed to that time of the year because of the congested season with the Rest of the World games, so we had a split tour.
“I think the split tour was really good in terms of concentrating on one-day games and then concentrating on the Tests, so we had no complaints there.
“It just got a little late in the season to prepare surfaces that were conducive to five-day cricket.”
The conditions also conspired to make it a tough series for the specialist batters.
Only host captain Graeme Smith prospered among the openers used, with the BLACKCAPS having to shuffle their pack due to injury.
“You can’t cater for injuries and our combinations were different because of them,” he added.
“Hamish Marshall missed out on two Tests and Peter Fulton on one, so just doing simple numbers mean your combinations are going to change in a three-match series.
“We learned a lot about our openers, but haven’t advanced as much as we’d like to, which will only happen with consistency. We weren’t able to play consistently the same two guys.
“Neither side got away with opening, on both sides. The high score was 60, in the last game, when Graeme Smith decided that attack was the best option and he had the confidence and, probably, the skills to be able to do that.
“A younger guy just starting off on his career perhaps hasn’t got the risk factor he’s prepared to take on and I think that was the difference between the four openers that played – simply experience.”