Johannesburg — The Proteas may have won the first Test by 87 runs at Centurion, but there is still plenty of room for improvement in the second and final Test against the West Indies at the Wanderers this week.
IOL Sport’s Zaahier Adams highlights five things the Proteas need to secure the series 2-0.
1. Batters have to come to the party
The repeated mantra of anybody being interviewed on behalf of this Proteas team is that there is a lot of talent in that dressing room. Nobody doubts their belief but it is becoming harder to swallow.
However, there were some signs of a rainbow at Centurion in the first innings when South Africa passed 300 for the first time since Lord’s last year. Collectively, they will hope the promise shown before the collapses that followed is a sign of better things to come under the new leadership of Shukri Conrad.
2. Lead from the front Temba
Any Test captain will take a victory in his first Test to get the ball rolling. But he would also prefer some runs of his own, and especially not being dismissed for a duck in both innings. But such is Temba Bavuma’s life - and the social media criticism that goes along with it - that he now simply has to put it behind him and move on to the next match.
Bavuma enjoys batting at his homeground and will be looking forward to making a greater personal contribution to close out a first series win.
3. Tell Gerald Coetzee to forget about being the 'Enforcer'
Without the fearsome Anrich Nortje for this Wanderers Test, the young Gerald Coetzee may take it upon himself to be the aggressor in the South African attack.
He may be filled with the exuberance of youth and energy, and will be eager to charge in at his adopted Joburg Super Kings homeground, but the Wanderers has shown that when the ball is pitched up, that’s when the rewards follow. Someone should best remind him of that, especially with bowling coach Charl Langeveldt also not in the dressing room this week to guide the 22-year-old.
4. Let’s play “Shuksball”
The new regime of Conrad and Bavuma promised a much more positive brand of Test cricket. It’s not quite “Bazball”, but it certainly is “Shuksball”. The selections for the first Test certainly showed intent, but there was a mysterious lack of aggression from the batters bar Aiden Markram and Heinrich Klaasen.
Hopefully with the inclusion of the in-form Ryan Rickelton the shackles can be ripped off fully on a better Wanderers batting surface.
5. Win the toss (again)
While this, of course, is no guarantee it will likely have a major effect on the Test match. The Wanderers has been spin friendly this season, and the Proteas have opted to play two specialist spinners in Keshav Maharaj and Simon Harmer.
For this tactic to have maximum effect, they would want to bat first and have their spinners bowl in tandem in the fourth innings of the match, especially with pitch having been under covers for the last two days due to rain up here on the Highveld.