PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa – Fifteen years ago at Hamilton, New Zealand, Sherwin Campbell and Adrian Griffith added 276 for the first wicket but the West Indies still failed to make 400.
This morning in Port Elizabeth the impressive Kraigg Brathwaite and a belligerent Marlon Samuels both scored centuries against South Africa. Yet it is highly unlikely West Indies will reach 300 in their first innings of the second Test.
It was all about the good, the bad and the ugly of West Indies cricket as the regional side wasted the excellent efforts of Brathwaite and Samuels with a now too familiar middle and lower order collapse on day four of the match.
The Proteas were confined to the pavilion for the first three hours and for another 30 minutes later on after rain peppered Port Elizabeth. Amid the showers Brathwaite took his profile up a considerable notch by scoring a composed106. Samuels’ 101 represented his sixth Test ton. They were both very good.
But once they departed in successive overs, the West Indies collapsed, losing a further five wickets for 42 runs to sink to 275 for 9 at the close, still 142 runs behind South Africa’s first-innings total, before the weather intervened once more. The collapse was as bad as the many that have plagued the West Indies for over a decade.
Seamer Vernon Philander broke the Samuels/Brathwaite partnership with a full ball that moved in sharply and rapped Samuels’ front pad, punishing his non-existent front-foot stride. Paul Reiffel upheld the lbw shout, and Hawkeye showed the ball to be clipping leg stump after Samuels reviewed. Third ball of the next over, Morne Morkel sent back Brathwaite, who went for a drive away from his body at a ball that wasn’t quite full enough for the shot and edged a catch to second slip.
Denesh Ramdin and Shivnarine Chanderpaul saw West Indies through to tea, before Imran Tahir – who had been innocuous throughout and had struggled with his control while conceding 96 in his first 23 overs – dismissed both in the space of three balls with his googly. The first one
held its line rather than turning sharply in and pinged Ramdin on the front pad when he pressed forward to drive, and the second rolled back between Chanderpaul’s legs and trickled into his stumps after he had defended it off the back foot.
West Indies, already boasting a none-too-dependable lower order, had gone into the Test match with five bowlers, and South Africa sliced through the tail before the rain returned. Morkel ended the day with 4 for 69 and Tahir 3 for 108.
By then, rain-related delays and stoppages had already eaten away three-and-a-half hours, and West Indies had moved past the magic number of 218. They began the day 71 short of it, and Brathwaite and Samuels scored the required runs at close to four runs an over, growing in fluency after surviving a testing early spell from Morkel.
Samuels’ footwork is always a little lackadaisical, while Brathwaite’s head doesn’t really get over the ball when he drives. Morkel went around the wicket and looked to exploit both these shortcomings with full deliveries angled across the batsmen amid a regular diet of short balls.
Samuels took his eyes off the ball while ducking the bouncers and wore one on the back of his helmet, while the fuller one produced a streaky edge to the third man boundary.
Brathwaite dealt with the bumpers fairly well, hopping behind the line to keep the ball down or swaying out of line when it rose over chest height, but his movement forward to the full ball definitely looked iffy, even when he used only his hands to time a drive sweetly between short cover and mid-off. At the other end, Philander probed away on off stump, and gave away only seven runs in four overs before South Africa made a double change.
Tahir’s introduction served as a pressure-release valve, and he served up full-tosses in each of his first two overs that Brathwaite whipped away to the leg-side boundary. In between, Samuels danced down the pitch and smacked him for a straight four. Tahir continued to leak runs, and he gave away seven boundaries in his six-over spell, including a six and a four off successive balls that took Samuels to his century. By then, West Indies had sailed past the follow-on mark.
South Africa didn’t do their cause any good on the field. Dale Steyn bowled predominantly short to both batsmen, and the tactic nearly paid off when Brathwaite fended uncomfortably at a rearing delivery to pop it into the air off the shoulder of his bat. Faf du Plessis turned around from second slip, ran back, and got under the dropping ball, only for it to pop out of his cupped hands.
Jason Holder, in at number 7 in the Windies’ shortened batting line-up, feathered the impressive Morkel into AB de Villiers’ gloves for one while in two minds whether to leave or play. Sulieman Benn showed little batting brains or match awareness when he essayed an ugly swipe and clipped a Tahir goggly to Petersen on four. Debutant Kenroy Peters (0) was run out by the missile-armed Dale Steyn going for an impossible single the ball before rain brought an end to the day’s play.
Fast-bowler Jerome Taylor was unbeaten on 10 at the close, to be joined in the morning by Shannon Gabriel, with the hope of eating away more time in the rain-ravished Test.
South Africa 1st Innings 417/8 declared
West Indies 1st Innings (Overnight; 147/2)
K Brathwaite c Petersen b Morkel 106
D Smith c Amla b Morkel 22
L Johnson c du Plessis b Morkel 0
M Samuels LBW Philander 101
S Chanderpaul b Imran Tahir 7
D Ramdin*+ LBW Imran Tahir 20
J Holder c de Villiers b Morkel 1
J Taylor not out 10
S Benn c Petersen b Imran Tahir 4
K Peters run out (Steyn/de Villiers) 0
Total: 275/9 (79 Overs)
Extras: (lb 4) 4
Fall of Wickets: 1-55 (Smith, 16.5 ov), 2-55 (Johnson, 16.6 ov), 3-231 (Samuels, 64.6 ov), 4-233 (Brathwaite, 65.3 ov), 5-260 (Ramdin, 74.1 ov), 6-261 (Chanderpaul, 74.3 ov), 7-265 (Holder, 75.1 ov), 8-270 (Benn, 76.6 ov), 9-275 (Peters, 78.6 ov).
Still to Bat: S Gabriel.
South Africa 1st Innings Bowling: D Steyn 14-3-48-0, V Philander 18-4-41-1, M Morkel 20-2-69-4, Imran Tahir 26-2-108-3, D Elgar 1-0-5-0.