Cricket: South Africa out to preserve unbeaten test series record against 'best in the world' Blackcaps

If South Africa are going to keep their record of never being beaten by the Blackcaps in a test series intact, then the Proteas will have to beat the world's best side in their own backyard, concedes captain Dean Elgar.

Since New Zealand's introduction into cricket in 1930, one accomplishment is missing from the Blackcaps' honour roll.

Despite World Test Championship crowns, World Cup final appearances in both 50 and 20 over cricket and even a Commonwealth Games bronze medal won in 1998, the Blackcaps have never tasted a test series victory over South Africa.

And with two test matches this month between the Blackcaps and South Africa, a Kane Williamson-less New Zealand might not get a better chance to topple a Proteas side currently ranked fifth in the world. 

Australia is currently ranked as world No.1, but only after South Africa stunned India with a 2-1 come from behind series win last month.

New Zealand are ranked second at present, and hold the inaugural World Test Championship winners' mace.

But while pressure might be on the South African class of 2022 to hold on to that undefeated streak against the Blackcaps, Elgar realises the task he's faced with against a team he labels "the best in the world."

"The legacy between the two teams speaks for itself, but I love playing against New Zealand," Elgar says.

"They're a very street smart cricket side, and they use their conditions to their utmost advantage.

"When you're playing at this level, you want to play against the best in the world, you want to test yourself against the best in the world.

If the Blackcaps are to beat South Africa this month, they'll have to do it without the injured Kane Williamson and the retired Ross Taylor.
If the Blackcaps are to beat South Africa this month, they'll have to do it without the injured Kane Williamson and the retired Ross Taylor. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

"Right now, New Zealand are up there with the best in the world - if not the best in the world.

"We want to compare and compete and try and beat the best in the world, for us to be referred [to] as the best in the world.

"But we know there's still a journey for us. It's going to be a great contest against a pretty good and pretty strong New Zealand test side."

Coincidentally, the Blackcaps haven't been defeated in a home test series since the 2016/17 season - when their conquerors were none other than South Africa.

But despite conflicting reports about the Proteas' willingness to tour New Zealand under COVID-19 restrictions that will see both tests played behind closed doors at Christchurch, Elgar insists the importance of maintaining the relationship between the two countries is more important.

And if there's one team that understands the disappointment of a COVID-affected home summer, it's South Africa - who had both England and Australia walk out on tours at the height of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

In fact, the Blackcaps even reaching the World Test Championship final was only down to Australia's tour cancellation at the 11th hour.

"Ever since I've been around, and I've been around for a long time in the Proteas set-up, we've always respected New Zealand," he adds.

"Coming to South Africa, us coming here and playing against one another - it's always a great contest between bat and ball.

"I think the mutual respect off the field and on the field is immense, that's why for us it was always going to be a decision of keeping that friendship and that relationship going between New Zealand Cricket and South Africa."

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