The West Indies will get their first taste of white-clothes cricket on South African shores when they take on an Invitational XI in a three-day match in Benoni on Wednesday.
A number of the tourists have been in the country for quite some time, playing in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge. The net practices over the past month with some of South Africa’s most talented cricketers will have got the visitors acclimatised to the conditions, but playing the longest format will require a completely different skill-set.
The booming cover drives and smears over mid-wicket will have to be put in the closet, especially at the beginning of an innings. The most important aspect the tourists can take away from this match at Willomore Park is to find some patience. The bowlers will need to settle into a line and length, while the batsmen need to shore up their defence and work on their shot selection.
The South African selectors have done the West Indies the courtesy of selecting a strong outfit to do battle in Benoni. It may even result in an embarrassing loss for the Caribbean team, but it will provide a good test and leave them battle-hardened, which is exactly what they need ahead of the first Test with the No 1 ranked side in the world.
Players to watch:
Stiaan van Zyl will be closely watched as he attempts to pencil his name into the team list for the first Test. He’s bided his time on the provincial circuit and will be desperate to show what he can do against an international attack. For the West Indies, Shivnarine Chanderpaul has been their most consistent batsmen for a number of years. He will need to find his form early in the tour in order to keep his side competitive.
It’s only a three-day game and the goal will be to give everybody some time in the middle. For this reason, a draw is the most likely outcome.
Preview compiled by Gareth Stevens.