Blackcaps v South Africa: Unknown opposition present scouting headaches for home team

In an era when scouting opponents has arguably never been easier, the Blackcaps are struggling to come to grips with the South African team they'll face over two tests over the next couple of weeks.

These Proteas are notoriously far from their top test line-up, with most of their top players remaining home to contest the domestic Twenty20 competition - yet another example of how whiteball cricket is undermining the traditional long form.

Events have conspired to put the home side under the pressure of heavy favouritism, despite the fact they have never defeated South Africa in a test series, home or away.

Captain Tim Southee admits they know very little about the players they face. 

Of the last test line-up fielded by South Africa for a seven-wicket defeat to India, only middle-order batter David Bedingham has made the trip to New Zealand.

Asked if he had done more video analysis of the Proteas, Southeee chuckles: "Not a lot more, because there's not a lot of them.

"It's a little bit of the unknown. They played a three-day game at Lincoln, which we got footage from, and we've managed to scrap around and find some footage, but it's test cricket and we're just excited to get into a great backend of the summer."

That hitout against New Zealand XI probably offered limited assistance to the Blackcaps video analysts, with six of 12 batters retiring not out in the first innings and another three of seven strolling off unscathed in the second. 

South African Keegan Peterson in action against NZ XI.
South African Keegan Peterson in action against NZ XI. Photo credit: Photosport

The young Kiwis dismissed only six batters across both innings, but were at least able to expose eight visiting bowlers, when it was their turn to take the crease.

Southee refuses to make any concessions to a touring side that many have already written off.

"We approach every test match the same," he insisted. "We prepare the way we want to prepare and a lot of focus shifts to what we're doing.

"With the unknown opposition, that highlights that [approach] even more. We address what we do as a side and the way we want to play over the next five days."