For some, it is about the one that got away. For Stuart Williams, it is about the one moment that did: Marlon Samuels’ dismissal.
“We were building nicely. It was just an awful shot,” Williams said.
After declaring himself a cannibal, in spin terms at least, Samuels got hold of Simon Harmer and was playing him comfortably, even with the shot that led to his downfall. He responded to a brief period of being tied down by launching Harmer down the ground but forgot that there was a long-on with legs chasing after it. Dean Elgar is one of the quicker men on the outfield and made good ground to take the catch almost straight down the wicket.
That was the catalyst for another collapse – this time seven for 33 – which saw West Indies tumble from a fighting position to a flagging one. “I think we just missed the moment. That’s the moment in the game where everything fell away,” Williams said. “This is international cricket and we just have to seize the moment. You have to respect your opposition at all times and we didn’t do that.”
South Africa knew that Samuels’ default position is defiance, which could stretch to disrespect if he is feeling in the mood. They also knew that if they got him out of the away, the rest would fall. “He was one of their stand-out batters so it was important to put him under pressure early on,” Morne Morkel said. “We know him – if he hits, he hits. But [if] he misses, he is out.”
Despite that, Samuels remains the highest run-scorer for West Indies in South Africa for a second tour in succession and Williams conceded that he remains the biggest positive for them. “We have some positives like Marlon averaging over 50,” Williams said. “And in the first innings of this game, we bowled out South Africa. We had three run outs. Even though we don’t have a bowler who took five or six wickets, we still worked hard.”
The small improvements West Indies made along the way is a good sign for Williams, even though he admitted to frustration with the lower order. “In the first game, South Africa played well and we didn’t. Then, in Port Elizabeth we showed some improvement and then in three-and-a-half days here, we were in the game and we obviously had a competition,” he said. “But our lower order never really fronted up and we spoke about it all along. It’s difficult; it’s stressful but you still have to find a way.”
Williams hoped that West Indies would bat out the day and bat until lunch tomorrow to get a lead of “close to 230 or 240.” That, he believed, would have been enough to push for victory. Now, they only have 115 more runs to defend and Williams has promised “ a fight” and that his men would learn from the team they may eventually be beaten by. “They’re not No. 1 in the world by mistake. What I will take from here is consistency, especially in the bowlers. If we can learn from that, we will be on the right track.”