Jon Cardinelli reflects on the big moments that shaped day one of the Test at St George’s Park.
BATSMAN OF THE DAY
Dean Elgar paced his innings superbly. The West Indies bowlers kept Elgar quiet for long periods and even managed to hit him on the helmet at one point. But the South African opener maintained his cool throughout, accumulated the runs, and played the hosts into a strong position.
BOWLER OF THE DAY
Sulieman Benn will be dubbed Mr Unlucky after a fine yet wicketless performance on day one. Benn consistently troubled the South African batsmen with his flight and bounce. He should have had Faf du Plessis caught at slip, and Dean Elgar stumped. Unfortunately, the West Indies fielders let the big off-spinner down.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Faf du Plessis was the most circumspect of the South African batsmen on day one, but when he did get it right, it was a treat to watch. Shannon Gabriel overpitched in the 49th over, and was dispatched through mid-on for a sweetly-struck boundary.
GIFT OF THE DAY
Alviro Petersen may as well have said ‘Merry Christmas, West Indies’ when he hit a simple catch to cover. The tourists were battling at that point of the contest, and did not deserve a wicket. Shannon Gabriel’s wide, short delivery didn’t deserve a wicket. Petersen’s poor shot to the off-side presented the hosts with an absolute gift of a dismissal.
DELIVERY OF THE DAY
Right after lunch, Jerome Taylor was on fire. He drew Faf u Plessis into a false stroke, the ball found the outside edge, and flew to Marlon Samuels at gully. Unfortunately for Taylor, the catch was put down.
FAIL OF THE DAY
The butterfingered West Indians missed as many as four chances in the field, and the captain was the biggest culprit of the lot. Facing Sulieman Benn, Dean Elgar left his crease and attempted to hit a fullish delivery over the top. The ball beat Elgar, and thudded into wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin’s pads. Replays confirmed that the West Indies skipper should have done better to keep low, collect the ball, and remove the bails.
MILESTONE OF THE DAY
AB de Villiers has played in 97 consecutive Tests since his debut in 2004, one more than former Australian wicket-keeper batsman Adam Gilchrist (who played 96 straight games between debut and retirement). Allan Border tops the list of most consecutive Tests (153), followed by Mark Waugh and Alastair Cook (both 107), Sunil Gavaskar 106, and now De Villiers (97).
STAT OF CONCERN
Alviro Petersen scored 17 on day one. The South African batsman has now gone nine innings without scoring a 50, and 25 innings without scoring a century.
Denesh Ramdin has won both tosses in this series, and has opted to bowl first on both occasions. Shortly after Ramdin made the decision on day one at St Georges Park, his opposite number Hashim Amla confirmed that South Africa always hoped to bat first. The West Indies may rue Ramdin’s decision if they are forced to bat last on days four and five.
While there was a dearth of wickets on day one, scoring runs was difficult. It will be interesting to see how the West Indies batsmen cope when the pitch is a day or two older, and whether Imran Tahir, South Africa’s attacking leg-spinner, can exploit these conditions.