Windies set to face a challenging tour of SA

2014-12-10 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — After more than a week of preparation, the West Indies start what is likely to be a challenging tour of South Africa with a three-day match against a South African Invitation XI in Benoni today.

It has been seven years since the West Indies last toured South Africa — and just under eight weeks since a tour of India ended in controversial circumstances when the West Indian players pulled out because of a pay dispute with their board.

The Test squad agreed to new contracts, although two senior players have withdrawn — Darren Bravo for personal reasons and Chris Gayle because of a back injury.

The West Indies have only won one Test in three visits to South Africa and they will start the three-match series next week as underdogs against the number one-ranked hosts. The West Indies are eighth on the rankings, ahead only of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

The tourists may be better equipped for three Twenty20 internationals and five one-day internationals that follow the Tests, with the one-day games being the last opportunity for both sides to prepare for the Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in February and March.

The West Indians arrived in South Africa last week and have had daily net practices in an effort to adjust to the extra bounce typically found in South African conditions.

Only four of the squad — captain Denesh Ramdin, veteran batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul, batsman Marlon Samuels and fast bowler Jerome Taylor — played in the 2007/08 series.

Chanderpaul and Samuels both hit centuries during the series and were comfortably their team’s best batsmen.

The Invitation XI consists mainly of promising young players but includes international fast bowlers Rory Kleinveldt and Beuran Hendricks, both recovering from injuries, as well as left-handed batsman Stiaan van Zyl, who is expected to make his Test debut in place of the injured JP Duminy in the first Test starting at Centurion on December 17.

In keeping with modern trends, the three-day match will not have first-class status, which will enable the tourists to use more than 11 players and therefore to give all their batsmen and bowlers a chance to get some match practice.

West Indies Test squad: Denesh Ramdin (capt, wkt), Sulieman Benn, Jermaine Blackwood, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Sheldon Cottrell, Assad Fudadin, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, Leon Johnson, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Devon Smith, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton (wkt)

Fixtures

December 10-12: v SA Invitation XI, Benoni

December 17-21: First Test, Centurion

December 26-30: Second Test, Port Elizabeth

January 2-6: Third Test, Cape Town

January 9: First Twenty20 International, Cape Town

January 11: Second Twenty20 international, JHB

January 14: Third Twenty20 international, Durban

January 16: 1st ODI, Durban

January 18: 2nd ODI, Johannesburg

January 21: 3rd ODI, East London

January 25: 4th ODI, Port Elizabeth

January 28: 5th ODI, Centurion.

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