Wellington: South Africa cricket coach Gary Kirsten says his players won't be drawn into a verbal battle with New Zealand during their tour starting Friday.
Kirsten said his players would concentrate on performance and had the discipline to resist verbal sparring, even if goaded by the New Zealanders.
When South Africa last toured New Zealand eight years ago, the Kiwis under captain Stephen Fleming launched a deliberate campaign of verbal provocation aimed at Proteas captain Graeme Smith. The tactic unsettled Smith and might be used again by the New Zealanders whose confidence is high after a series of one-sided wins over Zimbabwe.
The last encounter between the teams, when New Zealand eliminated South Africa from the World Cup in Dhaka last March, was also acrimonious. New Zealand's Kyle Mills and Daniel Vettori and South Africa's Faf du Plessis were fined for "inappropriate and deliberate physical contact between players".
But Kirsten told a news conference on Monday he was confident his players were could respond appropriately to anything New Zealand may throw at them.
"We feel if we play really good cricket and don't say anything we're going to win more games than we're going to lose," he said.
"Our focus will be on what we're going to do. If New Zealand feel they want to get verbal with us then that's their business. At the end of the day the side that plays better cricket is going to win."
As he was speaking, and as if to underline his point, a ball struck by South African allrounder Wayne Parnell crashed through the window of the conference room at Wellington's Basin Reserve, missing Kirsten and Twenty20 captain A.B. de Villiers by meters.
De Villiers, who will captain South Africa in the two Twenty20 and three one-day matches before Smith takes over for the three Tests, said he expected a fiery series.
"There always is a little bit of this and that when we play against New Zealand," he said.
"Especially the last time we met at the World Cup there were a few things that went down there. They won the game and we've got a lot to prove in this series.
"I'm sure the game will be played hard on the field but we're friends with most of the guys off the field."
South Africa will open their tour with a Twenty20 warmup match against Canterbury on Wednesday before meeting New Zealand in the first T20 international at Wellington on Friday.