Windies to try again
THE TWO teams would have had a contrasting week since the premature end to the first Digicel Test match last Sunday.South Africa, comprehensive winners of that match at the Queen’s Park Oval by 163 runs on the fourth day, would have been happy tourists, confident that they have the measure of opponents they have now beaten in eight matches on the trot on this tour.West Indies, without a victory of any kind since defeating India in the Super Eight phase of May’s ICC World Twenty20 tournament, would have been feeling the pressure of those successive defeats.Shorn of self-belief, they would have been seeking to come up with some plan to finally overcome Graeme Smith’s side.They will try to do so again today at Warner Park, picking from the same squad as in the first Test.Fast bowler Kemar Roach has been retained in the group and ought to be fit enough this time to take his place in the starting line-up. His captain certainly can do with his extra pace, ability to bowl effective yorkers with the new ball, and whole-hearted effort. New ball penetration was patently lacking at the Oval where Ravi Rampaul and Nelon Pascal, on his debut, went wicket-less in both of South Africa’s innings. In contrast, Dayle Steyn and Morne Morkel accounted for 14 wickets between them in the match.The failure of the opening bowlers to make the breakthroughs neutralised the big effort of spinners Sulieman Benn and the other West Indian debutant, Shane Shillingford. It was that lack of support from the seamers which accounted for South Africa managing to rally from 107 for five to reach 352.Warner Park has only hosted one Test before this one, but its history suggests that the home spinners will have much work to do again.West Indies and India played to a high-scoring draw in the previous Test here. Darren Ganga and Brian Lara both got centuries in that match, but Gayle also got 83 and Shivnarine Chanderpaul an unbeaten 97.For West Indies to have a chance of avoiding defeat, far less beating the visitors in this game, those two will have to play substantial hands. They will have to lead their teammates out their debilitating slump with the bat.For it is the batting that is the Windies’ biggest problem right now. “We have lost all the games so far, but we are still confident we can do well,” Gayle said yesterday.“We sat down, and had a lot of game assessments, and looked carefully at where we went wrong, and the mistakes we have to correct.“We know it’s the batting department, and we have called on everyone to put their hands up, and take responsibility out there in the middle, and not leave it for anyone else.”In the continued absence through a knee injury of Adrian Barath, Travis Dowlin moved from the middle order to open with Gayle but failed in both innings, as did Brendan Nash who moved from five or six to No. 3.In-form left-hander Darren Bravo, who was recruited from the “A” team, did not play in the first match, but may be given more consideration for this game. But Gayle’s side also seems to need the all-round commitment of Darren Sammy even more. There was surprisingly no place for Sammy in the first Test.The tradionally placid Warner Park pitch should at least not pose additional problems for the home team.However, the methodical South Africans will still fancy their chances of winning on such a surface. Their psychological hold over the Windies is great at the moment. Even when they were in trouble in that first innings in Trinidad they had the depth of batting and the positive, combative attitude to fight through adversity.Those are qualities the West Indies desperately need to manifest themselves if they are to stop this rot.TeamsWEST INDIES (from) – Chris Gayle (captain), Dwayne Bravo (vice-captain), Travis Dowlin, Brendan Nash, Shiv Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Darren Bravo, Denesh Ramdin, Darren Sammy, Sulieman Benn, Shane Shillingford, Ravi Rampaul, Nelon Pascal, Kemar Roach.SOUTH AFRICA (probable) – Graeme Smith (captain), Alviro Petersen, Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla, A.B. de Villiers, Ashwell Prince, Mark Boucher, Dale Steyn, Paul Harris, Morne Morkel, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.