Windies brace for South Africa battle
It has been 11 years since the South Africans visited the Caribbean to play a Test match, and today, that long drought will come to an end, as the ‘Proteas’ face a rejuvenated West Indies side in the first Test at the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground in St Lucia, starting at 9 a.m. Jamaica time.
The series is pitted to be a battle of attrition with the bowling attacks leading the charge. However, the West Indies may feel a tad bit more confident, having come off a tied series against Sri Lanka before a series win away to Bangladesh early in the year.
The South Africans, on the other hand, come to the Caribbean on the back of a series loss to Pakistan, but they defeated the Sri Lankans late last year on the back of comprehensive a two-nil result.
The last time the West Indies beat South Africa in a Test was a one-off match back in 1992 in Barbados.
FOCUSED ON BEATING SOUTH AFRICA
Current captain Kraigg Brathwaite wasn’t even born when the West Indies achieved that result, but the Barbadian is keen to turn around the team’s fortunes and finally get one over on the South Africans after seven attempts.
The captain made it clear that the key to success will be the team’s attitude and discipline, and focus on doing the small things right.
“For us, it’s just to go out there and do the simple things right, and I think the results will take care of itself. We know South Africa will be a challenge, but once we do the small things right, that is what I like to focus on,” said Brathwaite.
Some of those small things that Brathwaite has eluded to are batting for long periods, in partnerships, and posting big totals. When the team bowls, the key is sticking to the basics and remaining disciplined.
When asked about the combination of the team, Brathwaite said that would be finalised on the morning of the match. However, the team could see a return for opener Kieran Powell at the top of the order, which would see another returning player, Shai Hope, slotting into the number three position.
Off-spinning all-rounder Rahkeem Cornwall could keep his place ahead of another all-rounder in Roston Chase, with the young 19-year-old fast bowler Jayden Seales possibly in line for his Test debut.
In the meantime, new South African captain Dean Elgar says his team will be wary of the West Indies’ bowling attack, despite missing trump card pacer Shannon Gabriel through injury.
“We don’t see this West Indies’ attack being less without Shannon Gabriel. I still feel we need to respect our opposition and earn the right to try and score runs against them,” said Elgar.
The South Africans will be sweating over the fitness of middle-order batsman Temba Bavuma. If he is unable to play, Kyle Verreynne could make his debut along with another debutant, Keegan Petersen.
The ICC ninth-rank Test bowler, Kagiso Rabada, will be the man pulling the strings in the Proteas’ attack, which will be backed up by Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje and spinner Keshav Maharaj.