On the first day the West Indies took the honours, but had in no way secured a stranglehold on the test. They made up for that on the second day with Chanderpaul continuing his run of scoring 50 or more in every innings this year, equalling the record with 7 in a row. South Africa are in desperate trouble to the point where reaching 210 to avoid the follow on is in doubt, making 300 would be a tall order, securing a lead a fantasy.
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.
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?
The West Indians have recently been in South Africa, participating in the inaugural World Twenty20 Championships. In the warm up games they beat Kenya and New Zealand and looked set for their third straight win in the 20 over format in the opening match asainst South Africa as Gayle smashed 10 sixes in his 117 off 57 balls to help them reach 205. The South African side managed to reach the score fairly easily and it got worse for the Windies as Bangladesh knocked them out of the tournament.
The return to Africa could not have started off any worse, as Zimbabwe beat them by 30 runs in the first ODI. Ray Mali must have been smiling after the first match – for the uninformed Ray Mali declared Zimbabwe will be cricketing champions of the world in three years !!(see more here) Natural order in the hierarchy of cricket was restored for the remainder of the series, as the Windies won the following three matches whilst the last game was rained out.
On the 14th of December, the West Indies face the Makhaya Ntini Invitational XI which includes: Makhaya Ntini (capt), Paul Adams, Mark Boucher, Herschelle Gibbs, Tyron Henderson, Jacques Kallis, Mfuneko Ngam, Yanda Pangabantu, Shaun Pollock, Jonty Rhodes, Pieter Strydom
On Sunday the 16th the Twenty20 match takes place at St Georges for the first time. The SA squad is: Morne van Wyk, Herschelle Gibbs, JP Duminy, AB de Villiers, Gulam Bodi, Shaun Pollock (captain), Vernon Philander, Albie Morkel, Johan Botha, Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini.
Greame Smith has been ruled out with a mysterious illness and thus Morne van Wyk is in the squad.
On the 19th of December the warm up game against SA A gets underway with Neil McKenzie captaining the side. The rest of the side is: Morne van Wyk (wk), Justin Ontong, JP Duminy, Gulam Bodi, Vernon Philander, Monde Zondeki, Johan Botha, Freidel de Wet, Charl Langeveldt, Robin Peterson (12th man)
Boeta Dippenaar was unavailable as he is writing exams
The West-Indies tour squad: Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Pedro Collins, Fidel Edwards, Daren Ganga, Rawl Lewis, Runako Morton, Brenton Parchment, Daren Powell, Denesh Ramdin, Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels, Devon Smith, Jerome Taylor.
14 Makhaya Ntini Inv XI v West Indians D/N Buffalo Park, East London
16 South Africa v West Indies Pro 20 Sahara Oval St George`s, Port Elizabeth 18:00
9 South Africa A v West Indies Buffalo Park, East London
26 South Africa v West Indies Test Sahara Oval St George`s, Port Elizabeth 10:30
2 South Africa v West Indies Test Sahara Park Newlands, Cape Town 10:30
10 South Africa v West Indies Test Sahara Stadium Kingsmead, Durban 10:00
18 South Africa v West Indies Pro 20 Liberty Life Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg 18:00
20 South Africa v West Indies ODI SuperSport Park, Centurion 10:00
25 South Africa v West Indies ODI Sahara Park Newlands, Cape Town 14:30
27 South Africa v West Indies ODI Sahara Oval St George`s, Port Elizabeth 10:00
1 South Africa v West Indies ODI Sahara Stadium Kingsmead, Durban 14:30
3 South Africa v West Indies ODI Liberty Life Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg 10:00