West Indies v South Africa, 1st Test, Port of Spain June 3, 2010

South Africa aim to extend dominance

The Preview by Liam Brickhill

Match facts

Thursday June 10 - 14, 2010
Start time 10.00am (14.00GMT)

Big Picture

South Africa's tour shifts a gear with the first Test at Port of Spain in Trinidad, but the disparity in current form between the two sides suggests that the hosts' struggle for a positive result could become even harder in the longer format. The South African team is even stronger in Tests than it is in one-day internationals, and after their 5-0 drubbing of a West Indian squad that seemed to have forgotten how to win in the one-day series, it appears that the coming contest will, if anything, be even more one-sided.

West Indies are in disarray, with several important players either injured or out of form, morale at rock-bottom, and disciplinary issues once again coming to the fore. It's hard to see how they could possibly turn things around in this series, but they will be hoping that the introduction of a couple of fresh faces to the team will help to spark a revival in their fortunes. Offspinner Shane Shillingford and fast bowler Nelon Pascal have been included in the squad, and Darren Bravo's good form on the A tour to Bangladesh - he was Man of the Series in the tri-series leg of the tour - lead to his call-up for the final three one-day games against the visitors. He wasn't quite able to carry his form over, making 63 runs in three innings - including an unbeaten 45 in the fourth ODI in Dominica, but he, at least, has recent runs under his belt.

Brendan Nash didn't reach 100 in the unofficial Test series against Bangladesh A, but was dismissed only once in four innings on the tour. His obdurate occupation of the crease could be a vital buffer between Chris Gayle's fireworks, Shivnarine Chanderpaul's steely accumulation, and a vulnerable lower middle order, especially in the absence of Ramnaresh Sarwan through injury.

The emphasis on occupation of the crease, rather than the pressure of trying to score runs quickly, could allow some South African players that have not been in the greatest touch on the tour so far, such as Graeme Smith and, to a lesser extent, JP Duminy to get back into the groove.

South Africa have clearly been a class apart from their opponents on this tour, particularly in their batting. The West Indies batsmen haven't displayed the application and shot selection necessary to compile big scores, as is evidenced by the disparity in the number of fifties and hundreds scored between the two teams in their limited-overs games. West Indies desperately need a something positive out of this series, but they face a mountainous task to overcome a South African Test outfit that has settled on a successful combination.

Form guide (last five completed matches)

West Indies LDLLL
South Africa LWWDL

Watch out for...

Shivnarine Chanderpaul was the only batsman to perform with any consistency in the one-day series - albeit one slightly curtailed through injury for him - in making 157 runs in three innings at 52.33, including two half-centuries. He has also been the most reliable member of West Indies' Test middle order for some time, and could be very tough for the South Africans to prise from the crease if he settles.

Morne Morkel was South Africa's bowler of the one-day series, picking up 11 wickets at just 15.90. The greater freedom given to fast bowlers in Tests, and the emphasis upon taking wickets, will only serve to emphasise the threat of his pace, bounce and menace, and he could well prove too much for a batting line-up that has already been traumatised by seven losses on the trot on South Africa's tour.

Team news

West Indies get to try out another set of combinations as the first of three Tests get underway, although injury has ruled Sarwan, Jerome Taylor, Adrian Barath and Fidel Edwards out of West Indies' plans. Travis Dowlin, who managed a half-century opening the batting against Australia in December, will slot in at the top of the order, while Brendan Nash will reclaim his place in the middle order. Narsingh Deonarine also managed some runs against Australia, as well as reasonable success in the ODI leg of South Africa's tour, and should get a look in. If Chris Gayle and Sulieman Benn haven't yet made up, Shane Shillingford could debut as the spinning option.

West Indies (probable) 1 Chris Gayle (capt), 2 Travis Dowlin, 3 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 4 Darren Bravo, 5 Brendan Nash, 6 Dwayne Bravo (vice-capt), 7 Denesh Ramdin, 8 Darren Sammy, 9 Sulieman Benn/Shane Shillingford, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Ravi Rampaul.

The main contentious position in South Africa's line-up is at No. 6, with Ashwell Prince and JP Duminy both vying for the position. Prince has recent first-class experience with Lancashire, but with South Africa highly unlikely to play both Paul Harris and Johan Botha, the added bonus of Duminy's bowling could settle the question. The variation offered by Lonwabo Tsotsobe's left-arm seamers mean he will probably get in ahead of allrounder and right-arm seamer Ryan McLaren, assuming Wayne Parnell does not recover from injury in time .

South Africa (probable) 1 Graeme Smith, 2 Alviro Petersen, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Hashim Amla, 6 Ashwell Prince/JP Duminy, 7 Mark Boucher, 8 Paul Harris, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe

Pitch and conditions

There should be life in this pitch for both fast and slow bowlers, although recently it has been particularly helpful to the spinners. It was here that Zimbabwe's battery of spinners kept West Indies to 79 for 7 in a Twenty20, and the last time a Test was played here - against England in March last year - spinners took 14 wickets in the match. The weather forecast is not good, however, and there is a good chance of interruptions until Sunday.

Stats and Trivia

  • The last time these two sides meant in a Test match at this venue, in 2005, Makhaya Ntini bowled South Africa to an eight-wicket win with 13 wickets in the match. West Indies' last Test here was against England last year, when the hosts just managed to cling on for a series-clinching draw.
  • Jacques Kallis has plundered 2073 runs in 21 Tests against West Indies at an average of 74.03, including seven hundreds and 11 fifties.


"Losing has become a habit, but we have to put that behind us and look forward to the Test series."
Chris Gayle will be hoping that his side can move on from a run of seven losses

"Winning is a habit, and when you get into tight games, and you are used to winning, you are able to limp over the line."
The opposite is true for Graeme Smith and his men, who have given their fans something to smile about after the disappointment of the World Twenty20

Liam Brickhill is an assistant editor at ESPN Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hamish on June 10, 2010, 20:06 GMT

    I'm glad to see that many favour Prince. Before the selectors mucked around by moving him to opener (where he was clearly less happy), he was along with Kallis one of our most consistent performers, averaging above 45 and with 10 or so centuries. One of his great attributes is in performing when all the other batsmen fold: like the first innings in Lords 08' or India's triumph at the Wanderers a few seasons back. No 2 is clearly the problem position. I cannot think of any player who stands out in provincial cricket, so why not give Peterson a proper run (now that Gibbs and McKenzie are passed it)?

  • George on June 10, 2010, 14:40 GMT

    One thing you have to give the West Indies selectors credit for is their confidence is Benn. Over and over Benn has demonstrated what a useless bowler he is, but yet the selectors continue to pursue him.

    No wonder the team has become accustomed to loosing. Maybe the loosing sentiments begins with the selectors.

    How about starting a purge at the selector level first.

  • Aditya on June 10, 2010, 12:50 GMT

    may the proteas have mercy on their souls. LOL

  • Dummy4 on June 10, 2010, 11:54 GMT

    West Indies should play Benn and Shillingford along with Pascal and Rampaul. I cant see Sammy being as penetrative in test matches.

    I am willing and would be happy to eat my words if Sammy plays and takes wickets tho.

  • Dummy4 on June 10, 2010, 11:42 GMT

    this series is going to be a real test for three players in the SA side duminy, prince and petersen. out of three two are going to cement their places once for all and it would be really difficult for third player to make an comeback. petersen is not a great batsman and his technique is not great either. i would suggest prince to open the batting because he is more experienced than petersen. prince needs time in the middle and the bowing of the W.I is not good so he's got a chance to regain the confidence. as far as duminy is concerned he has to apply himself in tough situations. this is an wonderful chance for him to make an impression both with bat and ball. what happened to parnell. is he fit. my team smith, prince, amla, kallis, devilliers, duminy, boucher, parnell, morkel, steyn and harris. can anyone say when will tahir imran represent SA. i am eager to see a wrist spinner in this wonderful batting lineup.

  • Mark on June 10, 2010, 10:34 GMT

    I would rather see Prince in than JP. If Smith finds form, SA have a solid top 4 and with Prince and Amla in the middle order, it adds strength. Steyn and Morkel should shine on these pitches. It does look very one sided and I hope SA play ruthless cricket and do not take the series for granted, because then they may be surprised. Would be good to see the WI back in the top 4 again.

  • Martin on June 10, 2010, 10:05 GMT

    I truly cannot see the WI giviing SA much to worry about- I would like to see Prince return in favour of Duminy who continues to disappoint, am also interested to see how Gayle does against the quicks, who will not be forced to bowl into his slot, and hopefully Tsosobe proves a good'un- but I suspect he will be found wanting for the extra yard of pace that makes all the difference at this level. Look out ofr Harris as well- I believe he is a lot better bowler than he gets credit for- and if the pitch offers assistance he could be a real habful.

  • Sabyasachi on June 10, 2010, 7:40 GMT

    Alvero opening? Not must be. It's amla with smith,alvero should at no 6,when duminy at no 5, ahead of prince.

  • Johan on June 10, 2010, 7:07 GMT

    Very true in the Proteas case, they did 'limp over the line' a few times, in the ODI contest. If you chase a low score and only win the game in the last over, that is not playing good cricket. I am sorry, but I am not convinced that all is well in that side, they will play a good game against a struggling WI, but their wheels will come of again, the minute the going gets though.

  • Dummy4 on June 10, 2010, 6:19 GMT

    Windies will win this...and best of wishes from Sri Lanka, Shiv will be the man of the series......

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