PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa, CMC – West Indies enter the Boxing Day Test against South Africa here tomorrow seeking a major turnaround, and are hoping their previous success at St George’s Park can propel them.
In their last game at the venue seven years ago, West Indies trounced the Proteas by 128 runs inside four days, and are hoping the venue inspires a similar performance, in order to shake off the ill-effects of their recent drubbing at Centurion — their heaviest defeat on South African soil.
Only four members from that 2007 triumph remain in the current Test squad but captain Denesh Ramdin — who is one of them — remained hopeful that the same spirit that guided that victory, would also inspire his side over the next five days.
“It was a good match for us, Shivnarine Chanderpaul had a hundred there, Fidel Edwards he bowled well but I think it was all-round team effort,” Ramdin said, recalling the victory that allowed West Indies to take a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series.
“I think going forward in this tour more team effort [will be required] and also more consistency and having that self-belief, knowing we can give the Proteas a fight.”
Ramdin, however, remained practical. Much has changed since then. South Africa are ranked number one in the World and possess a dangerous team in all departments.
Captain and prolific top order batsman Hashim Amla gave them a taste of that danger with a double hundred in Centurion while AB de Villiers cashed in with 152.
Seamer Vernon Philander then wrecked the Windies first innings and fast bowler Dale Steyn, the second, as West Indies crumbled to an innings and 220-run defeat on the fourth morning.
Ramdin pointed out if they were to beat South Africa, his side needed to conjure up something special. “Seven years ago we had a result here but having said that, that is seven years ago and they are the number one side in the world. We need to believe in ourselves a bit more and hopefully we can create an upset come this week,” he said.
“Playing against the number one side in the world you want to do well. When you do well against those type of teams you get a lot of credit for it so hopefully the rest guys look deep into themselves and pull out that magical performance.”
West Indies are aware that adjustments are required. They reduced South Africa to 57 for three on the first morning in Centurion but then watched as Amla and de Villiers took the game away from them.
When they batted, they were cantering at 162 for three in their first innings before a collapse saw them lose their last seven wickets for 39 runs.
Ramdin said the tourists had been working hard on the mental side of their game.
“Most of our guys got starts in the first Test and a couple in the second innings. We stressed on the fact that the guys who were getting starts have to kick on closer to the 70s, 80s, closer to the hundred. They need to carry so the team wouldn’t be under pressure or anything like that,” he pointed out.
“Our bowling department needs to bowl a bit fuller, on these pitches these guys are pretty good against the short stuff. We’re going to try to work out those areas consistently.”
SQUAD – Denesh Ramdin (captain), Sulieman Benn, Jermaine Blackwood, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shiv Chanderpaul, Sheldon Cottrell, Narsingh Deonarine, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, Leon Johnson, Kenroy Peters, Marlon Samuels, Devon Smith, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton.