A more resilient West Indies awaits Proteas in beautiful Caribbean
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JOHANNESBURG - What kind of a West Indies side will the Proteas meet in the two-Test series starting in St. Lucia next week?
It won’t be the soft-touch distracted team that South Africa beat on the last Test tour to the Caribbean in 2010. While Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Dwayne Bravo and Chris Gayle were all part of that West Indies team, as a group that team wasn’t fully focused on the task at hand. Also that was a golden era for the Proteas.
They’d achieved historic success in Australia and England a few years earlier, and in Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince and AB de Villiers, the Proteas had a prodigious batting line-up, with Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel providing firepower with the ball.
The teams meeting in the Test matches that will be played at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in St Lucia, are both in the development stages.
South Africa tackles the series with a new captain at the helm, and several players whose Test careers are still in single digits as far as matches played are concerned.
It’s the same with the West Indies, whose Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite was only appointed to the position permanently in March.
He led a very inexperienced team to a heart-warming series win in Bangladesh that month too.
A drawn home series against Sri Lanka provided further evidence of how resilient this current crop of West Indies players are and it will make for a very interesting series against a South African side desperate for some success after a difficult home summer.
The West Indies batting unit may not be as flamboyant as years past.
However, that indicates how the current generation has turned a corner. Brian Lara may be a hero for many, but what the likes of Nkrumah Bonner and Kyle Mayers have shown recently, is that they’re not going to try and copy the great left-hander’s attacking style.
They’re very much comfortable in their own flesh and in their own games, and that provides a big challenge for the South Africans particularly if the pitch in St Lucia is as slow as anticipated.
“Knowing that conditions won’t favour you as a fast bowler is not easy, but if we do the basics right, hit top of off (stump) for as long as possible, then hopefully something will happen for us,” said South African speed merchant Anrich Nortje.
He, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi will be asked to bend their backs in the Test series, and with the current crop of West Indies batsmen possessed of strong techniques and mental fortitude, getting wickets won’t be easy.
The West Indies will complete a four-day inter-squad match tomorrow, which has given the players some much needed game time. Shai Hope and Jermaine Blackwood both made half-centuries.
The Proteas meanwhile started three days of quarantine in their hotel in St Lucia after landing in the east Caribbean island on Tuesday night.
Should the players return two negative tests for the coronavirus, they will be allowed to start training by the weekend.
The first Test starts next Thursday.