This first Test against the West Indies represents the start of a new dawn in South African cricket, with opening bat and mainstay Dean Elgar taking over the reins as Proteas captain, writes CARL LEWIS.
This is the first time the Proteas have toured the Caribbean in over a decade. Mark Boucher’s side desperately needs a series win and a convincing one at that. There are many questions and storylines to look out for in the first Test in St Lucia.
It’s a new era for the Proteas with the reliable Dean Elgar at the helm. He might not be the most fashionable choice but because of the Proteas’ need for pragmatism, he is the right man for the job as it stands. It will be interesting to see what style of captaincy comes through. On a track that should offer assistance to the fast bowlers, he can only hope his impressive fast-bowling unit can deliver for him and make his job easier.
Bavuma, Van der Dussen crucial
The Proteas middle order has been their achilles heel for some time now. In Bavuma and Van der Dussen, they have experience and a bit of form on their side. Seniors in the team, both or at least one needs to score tons in this series for the Proteas to flourish. Their batting performances will be a big indicator of the potential Proteas success.
Keegan Petersen has waited long for his deserving debut, putting in the necessary work in domestic cricket over the past three years. At 27 years old, he is in his prime – this is his moment to plug the Faf du Plessis-hole in the Proteas middle order. His talent has always been obvious for those who followed his career since his days at Boland, now he to prove it on the international stage.
Verreynne on cusp of debut
With Bavuma still not cleared to play on Thursday, it could be a chance – and a deserving one at that – for Kyle Verreynne to make his debut in the longest form. Enough has been said about his recent domestic form, easy transition to international cricket and temperament; he is ready. Alongside Petersen, the possibility of both making their Test debuts is an exciting prospect for South African fans.
Markram and Elgar: a quality opening duo
The pair have been one of the few positives from the Proteas camp recently. Both are in good form and have scored 100s for South Africa in their last 10 Tests. This series is a chance for Elgar to show he can perform while captaining the side and for Aiden Markram to continue his incredible form, all while solidifying their partnership up top for South Africa for the next few years.
Can QDK come good?
It’s been an extended ‘rough’ spell for De Kock in all formats of the game. Not so long ago, he was South Africa’s best batter by some distance. With him being unburdened of the captaincy, we could see De Kock hit his way back into form in the Caribbean. It’s about time.
KG all set to fly again
Kagiso Rabada’s has not been at his usual best, granted his standards are sometimes unattainable for most. However, having not played cricket for some time, he should be well rested and ready to go. Expect a big effort from the Proteas most prized asset on this tour.
Rabada, Nortje and Ngidi – a trio waiting to explode
All three fast bowlers have displayed on different occasions how impactful they can be. Now it’s time for them to shine as a fast-bowling trio. Skipper Elgar said this about the track at the Darren Sammy International Stadium:
‘It’s a seamer-friendly pitch. We played [the warm-up game] on a side strip, on a slope. The bowlers took advantage. We were pushed to the ultimate extreme.’
The conditions will suit this trio; it is just up to them to deliver as a unit, something South Africans have been waiting for.
It seems Wian Mulder will get the nod in the first Test on a pitch where the seamers have something to work with. His bowling upon returning to the Test side has been steady but if he is to be a long-term option at seven, he needs to bat better than his average of 18. His batting and ability to score runs consistently are crucial for his development as an international class all-rounder as well as for the balance to the Proteas Test side.