April 8, 2001

West Indies batsmen have to know their limitations

The West Indies captain, Carl Hooper, on 16 not out, needs a captain's innings as never before. He has played a few good ones in this series already but only Hooper and local hero Ridley Jacobs, who made his maiden Test century in the last Test, stand between South Africa and oblivion.

With workmanlike precision, South Africa's bowlers, firstly as batsmen, and then in their more recognised role, have put their team in the ascendancy with the West Indies stuttering at 130/6. Jacques Kallis and Justin Kemp have two wickets each, while Lance Klusener and captain Shaun Pollock have one.

The West Indies were 50/3 after Chris Gayle, Wavell Hinds and Brian Lara had been removed through injudicious strokes, slashing outside the off stump. When they see the replays, they should not only be disappointed but embarrassed. There was no batting technique at all in those three dismissals.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul, with 40, gave some solidity in the middle, and for a while it looked as if Ramnaresh Sarwan would do the same. Sarwan, though, was out-thought and outfoxed by Pollock and Kallis, the batsman obliging with a skied hook that Nicky Boje took at square leg after Sarwan had hit the same bowler in the same direction for a boundary.

It will now be left to the captain and vice-captain to pull the West Indies from another hole, a hole left, yet again, by the inability of the West Indian batsmen to understand their limitations and play within them. Again it was a shameful display of being too adventurous, without caution and a plan.

Earlier, after being 148/7 at one stage, the South Africans showed how it should be done as they added another 99 runs for the final three wickets. Boje put on 75 invaluable runs with Pollock for the eighth wicket. Boje may have been dismissed for 36, but Pollock manipulated the tail to finish 48 not out in South Africa's eventual 247, really a tremendous recovery.

Neil McGarrell finished his first bowl in Test cricket with 4/72 from 43 overs, a fair effort, while Merve Dillon, who took the last two wickets, finished with 3/47. Despite South Africa's recovery, the West Indian bowlers can take some credit for getting the visitors out for under 250. Yet now, those bowlers will have to see how they can help, as batsmen, so that the West Indies will not be further embarrassed.

As captain and vice-captain, Hooper and Jacobs must lead from the front, and show the West Indian bowlers, as batsmen this time, how it should be done.

It will not be easy, but the West Indies must do their utmost to match the visitors, at least. If South Africa get a lead of even 50, this Test Match will already have been taken out of the West Indies' reach. Barring some miracle, they will bat last, again, on a wearing pitch. Shades of both Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados again.