Category Archives: South Africa vs West Indies

Neil McKenzie recalled

Neil McKenzie has been called up to join a squad that was selcected for the first two tests. This is an indication that he will be playing, it would be pointless to add a 13th man to the sdide. The journalists in the know expect him to replace Gibbs and to open the innings.

Another great call from the selectors here, getting a man to open for his country when he traditionally comes in at 4. I guess they informed him he is only going in 5 overs earlier, as Gibbs and Smith are usually chilling in the pavilion by this stage!!!

I am very against shuffling AB de Villiers around yet again and thankfully I read somewhere so are the selectors. This is for two reasons: firstly he didn’t sparkle as an opener and secondly he is the heir to the gloves and must adapt to playing at 5 or 6 so he has some rest between keeping and batting.

I indicated before I would prefer to see Morne van Wyk there as he is a natural opener and has also been on the fringe for a few years now. Neil has proven himself in the domestic competition for the past few years and has the talent to be there, my biggest frustration with McKenzie was his predictability and lack of concentration. Often he used to get 60 odd runs before throwing his wicket away, generally to a sweep shot that wasn’t on. The experts out there say he has matured, if he has he may well be the answer to our middle order woes yet strangely he the to sort out the top order problems. I think its unfair to ask him to open, however he has got another chance against a side that has been less than ordinary for seven years, so hopefully he will take it.

One other question is what happened to Boeta Dippenaar?

West Indies Win 1st Test

The West Indies won the first test by 128 runs, on the 4th day. It was an unexpected display, a fairytale win and their first test victory in 2.5 years. The West Indians dominated the game from the word go, the only time they looked to be in trouble was in their dismal second innings. The damage had been done in the first and the measly 175 left SA with too much to chase with a malfunctioning top order.

The South African selectors are going to have to ask some serious questions about their batsman. Gibbs didn’t get off the mark and has been struggling in the test arena for the past few seasons, whilst Smith hasn’t been much better. Gibbs averaged 45.6 in the 04/05 season, 15.1 in 05/06, 26.9 in 06/07 and 21.9 in the current 07/08 season. Smith made 39.2 in 04/05, 31.4 for 05/06, 32.8 in 06/07 and 33 for the current season. These figures aren’t pleasing especially when you consider “the rock” of the side Jacques Kallis has averaged 67 in 04/05, 38.2 in 05/06 44.1 06/07 and 121.7 for the current season.

The South African commentators have been talking about bringing Neil McKenzie back into the fray, which has some merit as he has been performing in the domestic competitions. Personally Morne van Wyk would be my answer, he is a classy player who can open the batting which is the biggest headache SA are facing. The current combination isn’t working and De Villiers struggled up the as well. He has had a good season in the middle order and it would be costly to meddle with his position.

To illustrate the problem in the top order, South Africa lost their first 4 wickets for a combined total of 108!! There are very few sides that would be happy being 4 down with only 108 on the board, in their first innings, yet SA were 63/4 and 45/4 in each innings. What is more frightening is that the last 4 wickets produced 93 runs just 15 less than the top-order!!!

The South African bowlers struggled in the first innings, especially Dale Steyn who lacked the rhythm he has had all season. Apart from this the West indies played fantastically, starting off with Gayle tearing the attack apart, followed by contribution from everyone and another excellent performance by Chanderpaul who had an incredible season, being denied in the second innings from scoring a 50 or more in every innings of the year. He managed 7 in a row, with one of them being in 2006. it is an incredible feat and without him, the Windies would still be searching for a Test win against decent opposition.

The second innings saw a worrying collapse for the Windies 6 wickets fell for 21 runs, before Taylor had a little cameo knock.

I genuinely believed it would be a question of how much the Windies would lose by not would they lose? It has certainly made the second test more appealing, South Africa will be looking to even the series, whilst the Windies would be feeling something many of the players haven’t felt before, a sense of pride, a knowing they are indeed good enough to compete.

Questions about Smith’s tenure are surely being asked, it was a huge error to allow the West Indies a first taste of the pitch, one which they savoured, taking the game away from SA by lunch on the second day. They followed this with a fine bowling display which was lacking in the series against England. The West Indies might be slightly undercooked on the batting front, however their firepower in the field can and has made up for this.

SA vs WI Day 3

South Africa managed to add 73 runs before being all out on 195, a score that allowed the West Indies to enforce the follow on. The second biggest captaincy error was made when Gayle decided the Windies would come out to bat for their second innings instead of enforcing the follow on. The end result is the Windies are 146/8 and have a 359 lead.

The question is can SA get it?? In the morning the Windies will not score more than 400, in all likelihood the will not get past a 380 lead. This leaves the question, who can score 380 odd on a docile pitch? Certainly the Australians could do it, as much as I hate to admit it the Australians would tear that score to pieces. Could the Indians do it? Pakistan? Even England?? The south Africans have a chance, but it would take a decent opening pairing, which Gibbs and Smith have been for years, it just seems that Smith is struggling at the crease, this needs to be followed by a typical Kallis century backed up by Amla, Prince and de Viliiers, not an easy task but if SA want to be the best they need to perform and tomorrow brings just that, an opportunity to perform, especially from a situation that looks desperate!!

Boxing Day Test Day 1: SA vs WI

The two tests that started today had similar weather conditions leading up to the day. Both grounds were subjected to some rain which makes the decision after winning the toss slightly more challenging. W.G. Grace had some good advice: ‘When you win the toss – bat. If you are in doubt, think about it, then bat. If you have very big doubts, consult a colleague – then bat.’ This advice was taken by Ponting who indicated it might be a tricky start but still worth the risk. Smith on the other hand believed the pitch would be troublesome.

After the first day, the West Indians are clearly in the driving seats. A score of 281/4 at the end of the day on a pitch that was supposed to have some juice in it has surpassed everyone’s expectations. This position looks a lot better than it really is. Rain ensured that only 84 overs were bowled, which means only 4 overs have gone with the new ball, which has already claimed Samuels wicket. Steyn, Ntini and Nel may have been innocuous on the first day, however they will be looking to snap up some early wickets in the morning, which could lead to a complete collapse of the Windies Line-up who possess a very long tail.

If the West Indies remain unscathed after the first 15 overs there is no reason why they cant score 450 plus on the docile pitch. If this happens they will secure themselves a draw at the very least.

The West Indies certainly won the first day however it was not emphatic enough for them to feel comfortably on top. In short South Africa have it all to do in the morning with a very average attack apart from Dale Steyn. It should be a very interesting days play, lets hope the rain stays away.

Boxing Day Tests

Australia vs India

Australia have won the toss and have elected to bat on a pitch that is supposed to be flat, however some rain from the last few days should make it a tricky start. Ponting believes it was a good toss to win, with some cracks already in the pitch. The Indian side have gone with two spinners whilst Australia has only one.

Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Matthew Hayden, Phil Jaques, Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist, Brett Lee, Brad Hogg, Stuart Clark, Mitchell Johnson.

India: Anil Kumble (captain), Wasim Jaffer, Rahul Dravid, Vangipurappu Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Rudra Pratap Singh.

South Africa vs West Indies

South Africa have named an unchanged side from their series victory against New Zealand, it is just a question of who will sit out. There has been rain in Port Elizabeth which indicates Pollock would be the logical choice to exploit the conditions and bolster the batting. Nel has somehow managed to survive the chop thus far and could well be in the starting XI. Smith has indicated that only a very very green pitch would be the undoing of Paul Harris’s spot from the team, which means the selectors will decide between Polly and Nel.

If Pollock is selected he should pick up a few wickets given the conditions, if not Dale Steyn will more than likely get his third 10 wickets in a match running. Dale is the only strike bowler currently in the SA side. Unfortunately Nel, Polly and Ntini just don’t seem to have the edge they once had. That being said, they are still quality bowlers who can exploit the weaknesses of any side, however they don’t inspire confidence in me that a wicket is imminent when they have ball in hand, a treat Dale Steyn brings to the attack.

Personally I think Pollock is the right call for this match, given the bad weather down in the Eastern Cape, with more rain likely during the test. Pollock is still one of the best at utilizing favourable conditions which are likely to prevail.

On the West Indian front, things look dire. Although they thrashed the Proteas in the Twenty20 match, they were embarrassed by the South African “A” side in a 4 day warm up game which lasted only 3 days as SA “A” won by 10 wickets. They have lost 17 of their last 20 tests on the road and the captain remains a doubtful starter.

On the positive side the West Indians seem to be forming an attack which could cause havoc amongst the South African middle order, which can be fragile if Kallis goes cheaply. Kallis has been the star this year with 5 hundreds and 5 fifties in 15 innings. Chanderpaul has gone one notch higher and hasn’t scored less that 50 in any innings this year. This may sound impressive however he has only had 5 test innings this year.

South Africa are the firm favourites for the series and it will take something incredibly special for the West Indians to challenge the number 2 side in the world. It is not going to happen, unfortunately the question is by how much will the Windies lose by?