- Now that the Proteas have arrived in the West Indies for their first Test tour there in 11 years, they have plenty of boxes to tick.
- There are many holes, especially from a batting perspective, that the Proteas need to fix and the West Indies don’t have a generous bowling attack.
- The tour will be Dean Elgar’s first full Test captaincy experience and his tactical ability will be highlighted.
Eleven years is such a long time for a team not to go to a specific country, but that’s how long the South African Test team hasn’t been to the West Indies.
None of the South African players o this tour have played a Test there.
South Africa, though, have a lot to prove and the West Indies, who are often in perpetual transition, actually have a settled side this time around with a good coach in Phil Simmons and players with plenty of ability.
Here are five boxes the Proteas need tp tick if they are to leave the Caribbean with a Test series win:
This department needs to do justice to itself, even though the West Indies have a bowling attack that can and will ask questions of the batting. It will be the first series played without Faf du Plessis, meaning that the middle order is entirely on a new page. Batting collapses have been synonymous with the men’s national team, even from positions of strength. New leaders will have to step up to the plate. If they don’t, it’ll leave serious questions with regards to South Africa’s batting depth.
Temba’s golden opportunity
With 44 Tests, Temba Bavuma now becomes the senior batsman in the middle order. His conversion rate has been a point of debate and rightfully so. However, the context of Bavuma batting with the lower order hasn’t always been properly addressed. He cannot be allowed to bat lower than five and at best he needs to take up the critical number four slot that’s owned by the batting managers of the various Test teams. There isn’t a better opportunity for Bavuma to show that he’s not just a lower-order firefighter.
Now’s your time Keegan
It shouldn’t be questioned that Keegan Petersen is the next cab off the batting rank. He was the top red-ball run-scorer three seasons ago in South African domestic cricket and had to wait his turn. That has come in the form of Du Plessis’s retirement and while some sectors could feel the likes of Kyle Verreynne and Raynard van Tonder have been hard done because of their recent run-scoring feats, they haven’t been baked by the South Africa ‘A’ sun. Petersen has done those rounds and must be given every opportunity to succeed.
Testing depth outside of Keshav Maharaj
There’s no doubt that Keshav Maharaj’s is South Africa’s best Test spinner, but there needs to be depth built after him. Prenelan Subrayen is one of the rare offspinners in the country, while Tabraiz Shamsi is proven at limited-overs level, but his resilience hasn’t been fully tested in international red ball cricket. Simon Harmer has been tearing it up for Essex in county cricket and should he be available to compete at domestic level, he’ll definitely ask the necessary selection questions. Subrayen and Shamsi have no better time to press their cases
Dean Elgar’s tactical awareness
Dean Elgar’s grittiness has never been doubted, but because of his sporadic appearances for the Titans, his captaincy stamp isn’t well recognised. The focus, outside of his well-proven batting, will focus squarely on his leadership ability and his tactical nous. He’s got plenty of bowling resources and how those will be managed on what will be expectedly flat pitches will be closely watched. Unlike Kingston, Bridgetown and Port-of-Spain, whose pitches have known qualities, the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground pitch is reasonably flat. If the pitches are going to be anything like the Sir Viv Richards Stadium pitches that were used for the Sri Lanka series, hard work awaits the bowlers, along with smart captaincy from Elgar.