West Indies v South Africa, 1st Test, Trinidad, 1st day June 10, 2010

Spinners dominate truncated day

The Bulletin by Liam Brickhill

South Africa 70 for 3 (Kallis 6*, Harris 0*, Shillingford 2-5) v West Indies
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Never before has a Test match been played at the Queens Park Oval as late in the year as June, and after a day in which only 34 overs were bowled, it wasn't hard to see why. When play was possible, a fascinating battle between South Africa's batsmen and West Indies' spinners - Sulieman Benn and Shane Shillingford - began to take shape. Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen had negotiated a seam attack blunted by an unhelpful surface with aplomb to go to tea at 45 for 0. But the spinners came to the fore after the interval, with Shillingford removing both openers on his Test debut and Benn getting rid of the in-form Hashim Amla to leave South Africa struggling at 70 for 3 when bad light stopped play.

Though Dwayne Bravo bustled in with characteristic enthusiasm, the quicker bowlers appeared unthreatening on a very dry wicket and it was no great surprise when Benn was brought into the attack early. He immediately found bounce and sharp turn off a tacky surface, although his length was slightly too short at first. He pushed the ball up in his second over and soon had Smith flapping awkwardly off the front foot and, coming round the wicket, he also had the right-handed Petersen poking nervously outside off stump.

West Indies have suffered from a dysfunctional team environment in recent times, but good communication between Chris Gayle and his bowlers was evident today in some inventive field placements - a leg gully for Benn, and a close, straight mid off for Bravo. Indeed, Bravo could have had Smith for the sixth time on this tour when, shortly before tea, the South African captain drove in the air to that fielder as the ball plugged in the surface, but a leaping Narsingh Deonarine couldn't quite get his hands underneath the chance.

Denesh Ramdin couldn't hold on to a clear edge off Petersen's bat from Benn's first ball after tea, but the assistance he was getting from the surface convinced Gayle to bring Shillingford on from the other end and he, too, found encouraging bounce and turn.

With Shillingford operating from over the stumps, Smith was able to cover the turn and bounce with his body, the lbw shout totally negated by the line of delivery. The South African captain's tactic was to play back and deep in his crease, and Shillingford responded by pushing his length forward. Smith, having made a habit of playing back, didn't get a big stride down the wicket, the ball pitched, gripped and spun to take the edge and Bravo held on to the neck-high chance at slip.

Where Petersen and Smith had attempted to counter the spin by, generally, staying deep in the crease, Hashim Amla responded by shuffling right across to the off side to Shillingford and was unafraid to use the sweep even at the start of his innings. But while that worked, briefly, to the offspinner, Amla had no answer to the ball spinning across him and edged his ninth ball - from Benn - to slip, where Bravo held on to a second chance, and South Africa were 60 for 2.

With South Africa under pressure, men were positioned menacingly all round the bat, but they weren't needed as Shillingford picked up his second wicket when Petersen's attempted flick to leg was beaten by the turn and he was struck on the pad. With the UDRS referral system available for this match, Petersen consulted Jacques Kallis and asked for a referral. But, with insufficient evidence to overturn the umpire's decision, he eventually had to go, and South Africa had lost three wickets for just 15 runs to be 70 for 3.

Paul Harris was sent out as nightwatchman and was met with an ultra-attacking field, with slip, gully, silly mid-off, short leg and leg gully all in place, as well as Ramdin's fidgety presence behind the stumps. He managed to survive until the light deteriorated once more, but with the flaky batting surface already showing signs of breaking up, both Benn and Shillingford - as well as Gayle himself - will surely have a very important role to play as West Indies try to lay a platform for their first win of the series. For their part, South Africa may well have missed a trick by omitting Johan Botha from their side, and even JP Duminy would have found some life in this track.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Patric on June 11, 2010, 13:05 GMT

    Shillingford was an interesting choice and early signs look good, but we have seen initial impacts before. Passion is great but a sustained will to improve and cope with pressure is what I look for in anyone wearing WI colours. If these young men do not understand that before getting caps from Mr Garner and Co, please, please I beg you. Stop at your yard and dont waste your and more importantly the true supporters time. WI 4 Life Patric T

  • Dre on June 11, 2010, 12:02 GMT

    @vladtepes. I don't think it is our fault. They took a long time to post the comments after they posted the first 3, so most of us didn't know that others answered the question. I for 1 wouldn't do it on purpose.

  • Sankar on June 11, 2010, 11:20 GMT

    Ravi rampaul bowled poorly yesterday. Even newbie pascal stiked ith line and length. If and all they are in a situation to select ramps , they could have played sammy intead of him . similar pace.

  • Dummy4 on June 11, 2010, 10:14 GMT

    Vlad all those answers were moderated at the same time they wernt delibrately multi answered

  • Robin on June 11, 2010, 9:54 GMT

    I read that somebody complained about the match being in Trini and how they shouldn't schedule matches there during rainy season. Well a match wasn't due to be there, but had to be relocated because of all the recent trouble in Jamaica. Also criticism about not selecting finger-spinners, personally we should just be grateful that we had a decent first day, all be it a rain-affected one. Promising debuts by Pascal and Shillingford. Pascal's action reminds me of the great Andy Roberts, whilst Shillingford started really well and getting those wickets would've done his confidence a world of good. Although it does alarm me that the ball is spinning so much on the first day and we have to bat last on it, good thing that the Saffers only picked Harris. And when was the last time that a West Indies team had two fulltime spinners playing in a test match?

  • Chris on June 11, 2010, 6:49 GMT

    i think there should be a rule that, if someone asks a question and a few people answer it, then no one else needs to answer it. i think we all know now that sarwan is injured. west indies turned in a good bowling performance today. tomorrow they'll face kallis and a nightwatchman, so they will look to make some early inroads. my big concern will be whether or not the west indies will finally be able to couple a good batting performance with a good bowling performance in the same match.

  • Dummy4 on June 11, 2010, 3:56 GMT

    i think they have the right team

  • Venkata on June 11, 2010, 2:55 GMT

    good to see prince back in the middle order and this would probably be the end of the road for duminy in test side unless any middle order player retires. now duminy can think of performing in domestic cricket and rectify certain problems and can make an come back really strongly after a couple of years, since age is in his side. i think SA have made an mistake by not selecting botha in this test match, after lots of rain the WI spinners got turn and bounce on the rain dominated first day. weather is going to improve surely on the later part of the match which means pitch would become dry and spinners will come in to play on the fourth and fifth day. any how good start for WI let's see whether they can put pressure on SA straightaway on the second day. first hour will be crucial for both the side...............

  • Myer on June 11, 2010, 2:30 GMT

    Friend Sarwan is injured he was not n can not be droped.

  • RAJIN on June 11, 2010, 1:52 GMT

    S.N.Singh the ICC have a rule that all test playing territories must host 2 int. series per year and this included the world T20 tournament that was held in the Caribbean this year.Actually no test matches were scheduled for trinidad however b'cuz of the outbreak of violence in jamaica the matche was transferred to trinidad since the odi matches originally scheduled for trinidad were also shifted b'cuz of the general elections.As for florida being a venue? that cannot be b'cuz of the for-mentioned rule.

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